Managing the future is easier than predicting it

Author: Simon Wardley, James Kirk (

Categories: disruptive ecosystems
I will go back to the one of the issues with prediction is you can often say what but not when and then you can often say when  but not what.  And mapping does help you narrow down the scope but it turns out that you actually don’t have to be able to predict the future in order to manage it.  There is a whole bunch of techniques the use eco-systems for example or ways of well. I’ll very simply explain, if you take an activity which is a product say commoditise it to a utility. So that’s your core service and it’s your platform and you get everybody else to build on top of it.  Everybody else is now innovating for you they are taking all the high risk sort of creating the new stuff.  Well you can leverage that ecosystem as things evolved to identify that process of evolution and therefore commoditise those acts. So for example if you are Amazon - you produce EC2, everybody does big data - you come out with elastic map reduce, and now everybody is building on that. And what that means is that your rate of innovation or apparent innovation, your rate of customer focus and your rate of efficiency all now grow with the size of the ecosystem.  And so you don’t actually have to be able to predict the future you just have to get everybody to build the future on your platform and exploit it.  So that’s one of the things that’s coming out of the report. There are certain things that you can predict and often you can only predict what not when or when not what.  But it’s not actually necessary to precisely predict the future in order to manage it. There is a whole bunch of tricks that you can exploit.
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