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Future: experts, predictions, soothsaying

Blog post by on June 8, 2012 1 Comment

One of the new books on my shelf right now is “future babble: How to stop worrying and love the Unpredictable” by Dan Gardner. I have a few more like “Customer in the boardroom” by Bijapurkar, “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins, etc. You can find a better list at my Goodreads account. But I digress. I wanted your suggestions for a problem I face often while talking to clients. I will start by quoting some lines from that book by Dan Gardner.

“No matter how often expert predictions fail, we want more. … So we look to experts. They must know. They have Ph.D.s, prizes, and offices in major universities. And thanks to the new media’s preference for the simple and the dramatic, the sort of expert we are likely to hear from is confident and conclusive. They know what will happen; they are certain of it. We like that because that is how we want to feel. And so we convince ourselves that these wise men and women can do what wise men and women have never been able to do before. Fundamentally, we believe because we want to believe.”

Beginning at about five years ago I was becoming increasingly certain of how social must be adopted into the business. (I was naive, I still am and I like to be that way, thank you.) And because I was certain, I was catapulted as the expert both within my organization and in the outside world. But I think my certainty exists only in my posts and my talks. When it comes to actual problem solving, real hard talk about social & the business, I waver. I am not certain. I am not sure, and thus I am cautious. I do not want to set up my clients for failure due to my cock sure attitude. Having convictions about the generic direction (which is what I mostly write about here) and being certain of the exact path are two different things. I seem to know more about how NOT to do things than how to. I am able to convince about the necessity to look at the direction I am pointing, but when I display my inability to chart down the exact path in the 30-45 minutes face time I get, I am unable to close.

And that is where I am stuck. How do you suggest I overcome this hurdle? Should I be prudent and explain why I am not so sure, what the risks are and how we could mitigate it, all in the 5-10 minutes of the face time that’s left? Or should I just portray myself as if I know, be certain and close?

Innovating is tough. Marketing innovation is easy peasy. Selling innovation is a b*#$%. At least for me.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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One Response to Future: experts, predictions, soothsaying

  1. Bob Thompson June 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Prem, I feel the same way. It’s easy to say something is going to happen some time down the road, but the reality is we don’t really know. Who could have predicted the social media frenzy 10 years ago?

    I was recently interviewed about what might happen 10 years from now, and I really had no clue. But I said some things about some trends like continued consumer empowerment, globalization, etc. Not very inspiring, to be sure.

    That said, I think the value of predictions is to help envision the future we want, which helps us go about creating it.

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