3 Tips for Predicting the Future


The reality is that in the world of business we are asked to predict the future all the time: future financial performance, future actions of competitors, future customer needs, future peak prices of raw materials, …

How good are we at predicting the future? In most cases, not very—even the experts can be flummoxed.

Against this positive economic background, the positive bull market looks set to continue. - UK Equity Trust, October 1987
. Two days before the US stock market crash.

It will be years – and not in my time – before a woman will lead the party or become Prime Minister. - Margaret Thatcher, 1974

There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” - Albert Einstein, 1932

We don’t like their sound. Groups with guitars are on the way out. - Decca Executive, 1962
. Turning down the Beatles.

The real problem isn’t that we’re not very good at predicting the future or estimating things in general, it’s that we aren’t even aware of how bad we are at it.. When we are blind to our inability to estimate and we are blind to the potential impact of poor prognostication on our work.

3 Tips

You can being to improve your estimating abilities by following some advice given by Douglas Hubbard:

  1. Stop making a single estimate.
  2. Give yourself a range where you are you are 90% certain that the actual value falls within the range.
  3. Test yourself from time to time.