Building the Future

The future is inevitable. We cannot avoid it. And that often scares us. Why? Because the future is uncertain. The future represents unavoidable change that the general population cannot really control. That can be really scary.

Technology is at the core of this transformation. While we tend to greatly overestimate the speed of adoption for emerging technologies, we generally underestimate the amplitude of its effects on society and the earth.

While it is widely agreed upon that the future is going to look different from the present, we have no confirmation, on a general level, of exactly what it will look like. We are all trying to figure out these details.

In business, the only way to survive long term is to learn how to be agile and adapt to these changes – otherwise you go extinct. And though we cannot predict the future, we can continue to test assumptions and iterate over our ideas to keep our companies and ideas alive.

To me, that is business. It’s all about “building the future” and accelerating inevitable change. Everything is a hypothesis, we have to figure out if we are right. We do everything we can to try and rapidly move forward. We make incredible sacrifices. Investors risk tons of money. Society bets on us. Why? To accelerate our future.

Very rarely, as we are on this fast lane, do we stop, and ask ourselves why. Even more importantly, we often leave the single most important element out of our perspective, and that is our humanity.

It is far to easy to get caught up in all that is business; the “incredible” technology, tools, resources, etc. are out there.

At the end of the day, all of that is worthless (to humans) if we do not diversify our perspective and consider things like emotion, personality, etc. 

And that comes to the crux of my (now a bit rambling) point ~ that people should come first. If we want to be a part of the future and all that is business, we must put people first.

This is an extremely important lesson that I have had to learn. Over the years, there have been numerous experiences, in both my professional and personal life, that have drilled this mantra into my head.

One of the most effective means to learning this has been through my Management Communication class (Fall 2016).

The “main event” of Management Communication, unlike many of my other classes, was to take a classroom concept and use it in the real world. Specifically, we had the opportunity to consult for a client. My group and I gave strategic recommendations to the St. Louis tech startup community.

If you know me, or read any of my other daily posts, you’d know I have *somewhat loud* opinions on tech & startups. What a coincidence that this would be my project.

But my passion for the future, once again, was rightly challenged with that existential element of humanity that so many of us leave out of the future. The class enforced not only hypothesizing a future (that inevitable change we talked about earlier) but also communicating it to an audience.

And in formulating that communication, I, as well as my group, learned a ton about people: the way they think, what they want, etc. We analyzed “soft” characteristics – like psychographics, motivations, and deterrents – about our audience.

In doing so, we created a set of solutions that not only included what we think the future should look like (our hypotheses), but also accounted for humanity.

As we as a society continue to accelerate forward, we must continue to understand people, on a personal level, and never forget that.