Six Rules for Accurate Effective Forecasting

Paul Saffo has the cover of the latest issue of Harvard Business Review, with an essay on “Six Rules for Accurate Effective Forecasting“. Moreover here’s the mp3 of HBR’s ideacast, where Cathy Olofson talks with (veteran Silicon Valley-based forecaster, they call him) Paul Saffo about his article.

One of many memorable quote from the article is this:

The goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present.

I will quote the six rules, knowing that they can’t stand the test without the article, yet they give insight into how futurists think about their work – I really love #3, 4, 5:

* Rule 1: Define a Cone of Uncertainty
* Rule 2: Look for the S Curve
* Rule 3: Embrace the Things That Don’t Fit
* Rule 4: Hold Strong Opinions Weakly
* Rule 5: Look Back Twice as Far as You Look Forward
* Rule 6: Know When Not to Make a Forecast

BTW, it looks like HBR has changed its content and blogger policy, you have to pass a kind of agreement screen, where I agreed not to post more than 500 words from any of their articles and to provide a backlink to them – looks like a fair deal to me.

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