Predicting the future

Memory’s funny. I recall attending Learning Technologies to speak on games, many years ago. And, as part of the conference, one keynote was a speaker who talked to the futility of predicting the future. However, I can’t find him nor the book I thought he wrote about it. Still, I want to push the point about ‘predicting’ just a wee bit.

The speaker’s point was more than just the famous quote “never predict anything, particularly the future”. Instead, he suggested that what happens is that you follow the trends, but things take an unexpected turn owing to some influence no one had thought to account for. He illustrated (if memory serves), with a number of examples.

And I’ve made predictions in the past. But one time Stephen Downes checked on a bunch of folks predictions, and demonstrated that they were mostly off (or too vacuous). So I’ve started talking about what I’d like to see.

But there’s more. As one of my favorite quotes has it: “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”, as Alan Kay opined. So, rather than just talk about what will happen, or what I’d like to see happen, I want to talk about what I will work to make happen.

In previous years, I’ve had a theme (usually two). And in many ways they’ve stayed the same under new banners. The theme remains tied to my (tongue-in-cheek) statement that “L&D isn’t doing near what it could and should, and what it is doing it’s doing badly, other than that it’s fine.” So last year I had Intellectricity and Transformation as my key words. And while I still believe in both, I’m keeping with Transformation.

What I care about is individual and organizational learning. And I want to make individual learning (whether alone or collectively) ‘transformative’. Which means we need to transform our learning design approach. Similarly, we need to transform how organizations learn. And that means we have to transform our own practices.

And I continue to work on these. I ran my LXD workshop at DevLearn this past fall, and spoke on the L&D Revolution at the ATD Japan Summit. I’ll be speaking on transformation again at TK2020, and on the Revolution for ATD New England’s annual conference.

So, instead of predicting the future, I’m trying to shape it. I hope you’ll join me! And if you’d like to tap into these changes for your organization, I welcome hearing from you! In the meantime, wishing you and yours all the best for the new year. May it be your best yet.


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