Dickeson--Throw Away the Crystal Ball
Billions are being bet on communication mergers based on assumptions of which bandwidth media will triumph. Will it be cable, ADSL, wireless from satellite, or something entirely different? All the CIA experts can't begin to tell you the survival probabilities of Fidel, Saddam or Slobodan—our current demons.
Forecasters of the Future
As forecasters of the future, we're all ignorant. For one thing, we haven't yet fully recognized the truth and implications of Chaos Theory. Even though we know that minor shifts in input will provoke major changes in results, we still won't concede its validity. It's too great a shift of prevailing paradigms to swallow readily. Nonetheless, small changes in input are going to happen. They always do.
We need to develop the humility of meteorologists. They forecast weather conditions for only five days ahead. Even so, the fourth and fifth days have lower probability of accuracy than the first two or three. They've learned from years of experience that their predictions beyond five days are worthless. Always those small changes, the variables they couldn't contemplate, screw up the outlook.
Now ask yourself how many days in advance you can predict future behavior of the critical elements of your business. It's different for each item, isn't it? Try doing a sales and expense budget for just next month. Then check it against actual results. Extend the exercise to two months. Then three—for a quarter.
Where's your meteorological "five day" probability? Where should your humility index be pegged? Now tell me what credence or credibility you give a 12-month sales budget. Are you laughing? You should be. Three-year forecasts? Give me a break!
Instead of trying to predict your way through the mists of the future, why not just "project" past experience into the future, using a spreadsheet to give a shape to your fantasy? Or perhaps use the same rolling quarter last year as a benchmark for the upcoming three months? Just something simple. Do anything that gives you a feeling of comfort, if you need it. But don't waste a lot of time doing it.