It’s a crazy time of year . A time for futurists, forecasters, and analysts to line up with seers, fortune tellers, and prophets to gravely tell us what 2009 has in store. Instead of tea leaves, animal entrails, and crystal balls, the “experts” will use data, charts, and complex theories.
And they’ll mostly be wrong.
It’s perfectly natural for part of us to wantto know what the future has in store. Of course if we knew precisely what pleasant surprises lay ahead and nasty unavoidable crisis’ wouldto hit us, we’d be so filled with the fear of impending doom or so full or anticipation that we would not live in the present and enjoy the moment now.
One of my favorite books of the past decade is The Fortune Sellers. The author, William Sherden, studied the dismal history — and huge multi-billion dollar industry — of forecasting (he calls it the second oldest profession). He concludes “of these sixteen types of forecast, only two – one-day-ahead weather forecasts and the aging of the population – can be counted on; the rest are about as reliable as the fifty-fifty odds in flipping a coin. And only one of the sixteen – short-term weather forecasts – has any scientific foundation.” When I hear an economist or anyone other than a forecaster making predictions a voice in my head says “you have no idea what’s going to happen.”
I’ve found there are two ways of dealing with our uncertain future – dealing with life. One is to create our own future. The other is to build flexible and adaptable lives, teams, and organizations. Both are central to leadership.
The January issue of my monthly e-newsletter, The Leader Letter will be sent out tomorrow. This month’s issue includes pithy quotations on Change and Uncertainty as well as articles on Leading an Organization in Turbulent Times, Business Practices to Support Your Desired Culture, Slow Down to Increase Your Speed, Now’s the Time to Increase Learning and Development, regular features like December’s most popular Improvement Points and updates on our re-designed web site such as the extensive re-indexing of 70 past issues of The Leader Letter in our archive.