Jack Uldrich
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Unlearn the Future, Today

Posted in Analogy, Black Swans, Business, Creativity, Culture, Education, Future, General, Health Care, Innovation, Insurance, Manufacturing, Nanotechnology, Pharmaceutical, Quotes, Robotics, Unlearn Strategy

Effective today, June 8, 2009, General Motors and Citigroup are no longer components of the Dow 30. In and of itself this news has no great relevance, but it does highlight how fast today’s economy continues to change. As I mentioned the other day on my other blog (www.jumpthecurve.net), many people think that "tomorrow will be pretty much like yesterday.” This simply isn’t true.

One strategy I have advocated for unlearning the future is to "develop a future bias.” As a thought exercise and to help you unlearn, I’d like to suggest a second exercise: review the members of the current Dow 30 and imagine which company will be the next to be removed from the list and explain why it might go. (For extra credit, I invite you to imagine which company might replace it.) The purpose of this exercise is to force you what of your comfort zone and come face-to-face with the reality that “the only constant is change” and unlearning is a critical skill for the future. (Also see "The Future Requires Unlearning.)

To help you get started, here are some possibilities. Advances in nanotechnology could cause many of the materials Alcoa makes to become either irrelevant or obsolete, and the company will be replaced by a nanomaterial company. Or perhaps Caterpillar will not remain competitive due to advances in robotics and it will be replaced by iRobot. A third alternative is that intense competition from Nokia will wreak havoc on both AT&T and Verizon and they will be replaced on the Dow 30 by Google, which may continue to make strides in the communication field with its new Android platform. A fourth possibility is that new advances in biotechnology will render many existing drugs obsolete and Pfizer will be replaced on the Dow 30 with a biotech company such as Genentech.

Really, there is no shortage of possibilities but one of the best ways to prepare for the future is to simply acknowledge that it is going to change. And, as Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of a species that survives, nor is it the fittest; it is those that can adapt the fastest.” Are you and your organization prepared to adapt — and unlearn? Quickly?

If not, you could go the way of General Motors.

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Never Let Your Ego Stop You From Unlearning
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Don‘t Incrementalize Yourself into the Future
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A Useful Anology for Thinking About the Future

One thought on “Unlearn the Future, Today”

  1. ujjawal says:

    Great post!! I am making one prediction with chances of people mocking at me, But I am convinced Google days are limited. One average advertisement product in market and Google will be gone.

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