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Using ‘Flash Foresight’ Is a Radical Way for a Business to Get Ahead

Insight is often the mother of invention and the catalyst for success.

Recognizing an insightful thought or suggestion is important as is the ability to act on it.

In an increasingly competitive global business environment being agile or staying proactive is no longer enough. In a world that’s moving at an unprecedented rate it takes something more: “flash foresight.”

This is the thrust of technology forecaster and business strategist Daniel Burrus who argues that the ability to take a sudden burst of insight about the future and use it to produce a new and radically different way of doing things is a key component of any successful entrepreneurial effort.

Using this flash foresight in –solving problems, crafting must-have products, creating high-demand services or building new businesses is a repaidly becoming a key part of success..

In his new book, Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible (HarperBusiness, January 2011), Burrus describes how large organizations, small companies and individuals can use a simple method to trigger flash foresights whenever they are faced with uncertainty and a desire to leap ahead.

Burrus believes that “when you are operating out of hindsight, you never see it coming.” He argues that leaders should cultivate a “future view” because they “cannot change the past, but they can shape the future based on the actions they take today.”

If people are to understand that how they view the future shapes how they act in the present, and how they act in the present shapes their future, it is vital for those people to have an accurate view of what is both possible and certain when looking ahead.

Burrus says that technology will transform how people sell, market, communicate, collaborate, educate, train and innovate in a short and predictable amount of time. All businesses do all of these activities, and if they are merely changing, they will fail, he says.

The continuing increase in what he calls the “eight pathways of technological advancement”—dematerialization, virtualization, mobility, product intelligence, networking, interactivity, globalization and convergence—along with the accelerating increase in processing power, storage and bandwidth, will totally transform the landscape of business in the coming years, Burrus says. Web 2.0 will rapidly make way for Web 3.0 and Web 4.0, both of which he describes in the book, and those who see this coming will be positioned to profit enormously, he says.

Burrus adds this: “In a world filled with unprecedented uncertainty, ask yourself what are you certain about? There are over 300 known cycles that allow you to accurately anticipate the future: after winter is spring, after a recession is a recovery. Linear change, by contrast, is one-way: processing power is getting ever faster, bandwidth capacity is growing steadily. Yet these trends are just as predictable as cyclic changes: Once we have smartphones with GPS and wireless Web, we’re not going back.

“If you take the time to look, you can pretty readily see what kind of impact just these three digital trends (increasing processing power, bandwidth and storage) are going to have on your business, your field, your profession or your company. Starting with those insights, and using some of the seven “triggers” I describe in the book—go opposite, take your biggest problem and skip it, and the others—and you can pretty quickly learn to generate accurate and powerful flash foresights that uncover hidden opportunities for your own business.”

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