So do you. However, our desire to know the future leads us to seek answers to unanswerable questions.
The question, “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” is a popular one that we get often at The Argonauts. The siren song of avoiding uncertainty and knowing the future is hard to resist. Having the answer is the equivalent of signaling to the world that you’re an oracle.
The best thing? No one will remember how wrong you were.
To capitalize on what’s going to change in the future, a lot of things have to go right. Not only do you have to speculate the changing variables correctly, but you have to guess how they will interact. And you have to go all in on that version of the future. On top of that, you have to hope that your competitors thought you were crazy and didn’t invest resources in that version of the future. This is why it rarely works, and when it does it’s mostly luck.
While predicting the future is important, it’s often not knowable. We’re speculating, but our brains convince themselves otherwise. Plausible answers about the future tend to cement as reality in our minds. We convince ourselves that we know something that is not knowable.
The range of possible futures is always changing, a lot like electrons. Beyond that, once you shine the light on what’s going to change and how this time is different, you may forget to look at a simpler and more important question: “What’s not going to change in the next ten years?”
Predicting what’s going to change is hard. Predicting what’s going to stay the same is relatively easy.
While you can’t know what’s going to change in the future you can intelligently speculate on it, which is the best path. The safe play is to invest resources into all probable futures. This conveniently keeps options open, allows you to tell the board of directors with a straight face that you’re working on it, and makes you better off than had you not explored the future. The problem, again, is that the game has many players. While most companies took the same safe strategy as yours, someone—somewhere—went all in on this particular version of the future. That company is now being expensively acquired, by you or someone else.
The important point is that while you’re doing that, you should be inverting the problem. Answers to what’s going to stay the same in the next ten years, while boring, offer the best investment opportunities.
Mixed sources: Brainfood, Skillshare, Acumen, Cassandra Daily