7 Ways to Spot Tomorrow’s Trends Today


“Wisdom sails with wind and time”
Image by Martin-Neuhof via Flickr
In its latest Special Report, the World Future Society outlines 7 ways to hone your foresight.
Scan the Media to Identify Trends-Futurists often conduct an ongoing and systematic surveys of news media and research institutes. These surveys help spot significant trends and technology breakthroughs. Futurists call this environmental scanning.
Analyze and Extrapolate Trends-After the trends are identified, the next step is to plot the trends to show their direction and development into the future. Trend analysis and extrapolation can show the nature, causes, speed, and potential impacts of trends.
Develop Scenarios-Futurists often describe the future development of a trend, a strategy, or a wild-card event in story form. These scenarios can paint a vivid picture that can help you visualize possible future developments and show how you can prepare effectively for future risks and opportunities. Scenarios help you to blend what you know about the future with imagination about the uncertain. Scenarios help you move from dreaming to planning and then to accomplishment. See How We Can Help
Ask Groups of Experts-Futurists also conduct “Delphi Polls” which are carefully structured surveys of experts. Polling a wide range of experts in a given field can yield accurate forecasts and suggestions for action. At the Virtual ThinkNet, we gather a “Brain Trust” of experts from diverse sectors on the topic which we are exploring.
Use Computer Modeling-Futurists often use computer models to simulate the behavior of a complex system under a variety of conditions. For example, a model of the U.S. economy might show the effects of a 10 percent increase in taxes.
Explore Possibilities with Simulations-Futurists create simulations of a real-world situations by means of humans playing different roles. For example, in war games, generals test out tactics they may later use on the battlefield, or corporate executives can explore the possible results of competitive strategies.
Create the Vision-Futurists help organizations and individuals systematically develop visions of a desirable future. Visioning creates the big picture of the possibilities and prepares the way for goal setting and planning.
This final step is where the process yields its fruit: how will you create your future while navigating the existing winds?
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