“Behind every overhyped trend often lies a fundamentally different future!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
(I must admit, I’m having a huge amount of fun with my quote format. 5 years in, it was time for a change. Let me know if you like it: email@example.com)
“Carroll’s Theorem: The more overhyped a trend the less likely it is to become real”
I did a long blog post yesterday about my thoughts on the much-hyped ‘metaverse,’ with a little bit on crypto, NFTs, Web3.0, and such. You might want to read it.
If you are not so inclined, I’ll give you 3 key highlights:
As I often say on stage, we find ourselves at a moment in time where no one is quite sure where we are going, but we’re certainly making a great time.
In that context, when it comes to the metaverse, clarity is critical, while confusion is rampant! And history helps us understand that we’ve been here before, so let’s start looking into the future by looking back into our past.
As the saying goes, “I’m old enough to remember” when the phrase “Information Superhighway” was tossed about with abandon in the early 1990s. Nobody really seemed to know what it was but were very busy making grand pronouncements as to what they were going to go do with it! Meanwhile, I was busy pointing out that the Internet was going to take a significant role in the global economy, and we had better pay attention to it.
What’s my point? It’s this – the future that is inevitable is always accompanied by breathless hype and extreme predictions. Separating reality from fact becomes an art form, and from a strategic perspective, critical.
Separating hype from reality is the challenge for any business executive today. That’s why any time I am providing guidance to my clients on the reality of future trends, I try to provide a pathway for interpreting our future, a pathway for action, a runway for strategic thinking. This has worked quite well – with clients such as NASA, Disney, Pfizer, I’ve spent a lot of time interpreting the future for senior executives.
Here’s what I will often tell them.
- behind every trend is a potential reality
- when it comes to the future for business there’s always a difference between the reality that is presented and the reality that results.
- interpreting any trend often requires cutting through the Silicon Valley hype machine to determine what is real and what is not
- that includes an honest assessment of the timing of when any particular trend will mature
- not only that, but it is critical to parse any broad trend into the many of the different sub-trends that are a part of the overall trend
- and it is important to do that in the context of an ever-increasing acceleration gap – our future is becoming faster, and so we must be prepared to do all these things at an increasing velocity
- any trend must be examined in the cold, harsh reality of the real strategic opportunity it might present
This too is the case with the meta-verse. It’s real, but it’s not. It’s important, but many parts of it are not. It is critical, but the timing is uncertain. There’s hype, and there’s reality.
The key thing is this – when it comes to the future, there’s always something big happening.
But often, it’s not what you think!