When I first ran across the book information online, I did not recognize the author’s name. The book’s tag line, “Identifying trends to make better decisions, manage uncertainty, and profit from change,” confused me. Does Gordon have a plural view of the future and therefore discuss multiple scenario forecasts, or was he referring primarily to baseline trend extrapolation so common with many business books? Either way, the book sounded interesting as it attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff to discern the usable aspects of the shock and awe implied by most forecasts.
On further research, I found out that Gordon worked with Coates & Jarrett, a preeminent US futurist consultancy. He is also a graduate of the University of Houston Clear Lake MS program in Futures Studies. Therefore, the book is from a scenario planning futurist perspective while remaining objective enough to criticize himself, his colleagues, and other forecasters.
He covers ways to recognize forecast intentions, the quality of the data on which forecasts are founded, the spin placed on forecasts interpretations, our own individual assumptions about the future, how consumers drive and block change, other drivers and blockers, the limits of quantitative forecasting, a systems perspective, alternative futures forecasts, applying forecast filters, and more than 40 questions to use in evaluating any forecast.
“The expectations and desires or fears that a forecast sets in motion influence the actual future that emerges.”
“A flexible and hedged view of the future that is ‘somewhat correct’ is obviously more useful to people than a wrong prediction however singularly asserted.” So, “while we cannot completely rely on foresight studies,” or the advice of trained futurist professionals, “to ignore them is fatal.”
I would continue with the quotes, but I am afraid of quoting at least 50% of the book and violating the copyright. As a student of futures studies myself, I must confess that the book challenged my own assumptions of the future and of forecasts. The systems application to futures alone is worth the price of the book.