How Do You Predict the Future?
The Keys to Successfully Predict Beyond COVID-19
If you’re anything like me, you struggle with uncertainty. And when it comes to uncertainty, a global pandemic really takes the cake.
Based on what we’re hearing from clients, the big questions for business owners right now are:
--How long until the economy fully reopens?
--Are we at risk of having to close again due to a second wave of COVID-19?
--What does “new normal” mean for my employees, workplace, and industry?
--How do I plan for the future when I don’t know what that’s going to look like?
At the heart of these questions is your ability to predict: one of the Five Leadership Abilities™ of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®).
With the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to predict the future seems particularly challenging: are you better off shaking a magic 8 ball or flipping a coin?
But in fact, the process of predicting COVID-19, or more specifically, its effects on your company, is identical to the process you would use to predict anything else in your business. And the ability to predict is a skill that will benefit you long after the pandemic is behind us. You need just two ingredients: information and insight.
Information is the data-driven piece of prediction. Without it, your expectations about the future are based on guesses or gut instinct. That’s not enough for rational decision-making at scale. You need concrete data, facts, and projections. Look to the following sources:
--Your company’s own reporting: P&L and cash flow statements, sales trends, employee and customer feedback, etc.
--Industry-specific stats: Who are the experts in your industry churning out information? Pick one or two trusted outlets or publications to follow closely.
--Overall economic projections: Not all economists agree. Find the flavor that fits with your worldview (bonus points for also consulting a source you don’t agree with) and track their advice.
--Historical data: It’s helpful to know when current patterns map onto events or trends that have occurred before. Good industry or economic sources may draw these kinds of comparisons on a regular basis.
--Health information: Not necessary in every case, but obviously an important factor during a pandemic. Economic projections are made based on this information, but it’s nice to be able to draw your own conclusions from the underlying data.
Notice that news outlets and social media did not make this list.
Once you’ve got your data, you need to couple it with an understanding of history, your specific industry, your target customer’s mindset and behavior, and an awareness of new trends and innovations. This is where the scientific gets a little squishy; an inexplicable mind-meld starts to happen when you match the right information to the right mindset.
Here are some sources to rely on when seeking insight:
--Mentors & Coaches: These folks can help you draw out and articulate your best ideas for moving forward.
--Masterminds & Peer Groups: Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs allows you to share and vet ideas and gets creative juices flowing.
--Innovations Outside Your Industry: Cross-pollinate your understanding of what’s possible by examining trends and developments in other industries. Sometimes innovation is a matter of applying another field’s best practices to your own industry.
--Books, Podcasts, & Articles: Read or listen to some stuff that’s unrelated to your field or running a business. Let your mind wander.
--Clarity Breaks™: Another great EOS tool, the Clarity Break gives your subconscious mind a chance to chew on your problems. Clarity Breaks help you gain perspective and are crucial to creating insight.
Good information leads to great insight, but then what? The ability to predict doesn’t mean much unless you put it into practice.
Use your predictions to build your plan for the next 90 days and beyond. Take concrete actions based on your predictions while still recognizing that your predictions may change.
Remember that industry leaders aren’t necessarily the first people to see what’s coming over the horizon: they’re just the first ones to take definitive action.
Being able to predict what comes next falls into that delicate middle ground between cynicism (why even try to anticipate what the future holds?) and magical thinking (blindly hoping for the best can run your company into the ground).
Not every prediction you make will be accurate: there will be some wild misses from time to time. But if you commit to honing the skill of predicting, you’ll consistently make better decisions for the future of your business.
Want to learn more about the Five Leadership Abilities? Contact us at email@example.com to connect with one of our EOS Implementers®.
For more help navigating the coronavirus outbreak, visit our resource and information center.