Forecasting The Future – Part Two

To boil this down to the essential ingredients for success, the intentions of all concerned with the final result will determine what happens. If everyone involved is intending the same thing, that is what will happen. 

In a complex situation with many people involved, any counter-intention can have disastrous results. Inattention, carelessness, and lack of understanding can result in a disaster even though many people worked very hard to achieve a result.

On projects of a personal nature, pay close attention to any lack of cooperation or enthusiasm, and handle them immediately if you wish to achieve your goals. This applies to your personal feelings as well as the feelings of others. All intentions need to be aligned if you are to achieve the future you envision.

Al Leggett put it much more concisely: 

This is very coherent and a logical progression. Being able to envision the undertaking and/or final result comes next and can be helpful in getting agreement for the intention. Ultimately, a fused vision containing a high degree of agreement will create the greatest probability of success! 

In any event, the final result will be the product of all intentions for the activity. So if you are looking for the reason the activity or project went astray, look for the intention that the project would fail.

It is probably best if you locate and handle any counter-intention before you launch.

A reliable way to increase the chances of failure is to ignore all negative comments as the uninformed ranting of naysayers. You can vastly improve the chances of success by doing the laborious task of running down and dealing with every reason for the project to fail.

Engineers are professionally inclined to expect failure from unanticipated sources, as are experienced entrepreneurs. In both cases, their plans include consideration of the many reasons a project could fail, including things that are unknown as yet.

Politicians, on the other hand, tend to look on the bright side of things and fixate on good outcomes and not on the unthinkable outcomes that come from a maddened population. Marie Antionette certainly did not consider that her attitude toward the suffering of peasants would doom her and follow her down through history with the fictitious quote of, “Let them eat cake!”.

In other words, to forecast a possible future for yourself or your project, first assemble all of the benefits to be obtained from the project, and all of the reasons the project could succeed if all went well. If the facts you have gathered warrant proceeding with the project, then you should gather every possible reason the project could fail or be a bad idea and work out a solid solution for each of these reasons for failure.

If this seems like too much work, don’t do it as you are already setting yourself up for failure.

If you have solutions for every possible barrier to success, feel free to proceed cautiously and keep an eye out for the appearance of unexpected factors that could mean failure. One of the ways to anticipate unexpected modes of failure is to plan for a way to abort the project with as little damage as possible. If you cannot do that, you might end up with a Challenger disaster. Engineers knew of serious design problems that were not being addressed, and there was no way to rescue the astronauts if anything went wrong. Everything had to work correctly, or the mission was doomed. And, that is what happened.

We always need to look at counter-intention to a project as a valid objection to proceeding with the project, not as an evil move by bad people. You can think of counter-intention as friction or as an obstacle. If you classify counter-intention as politically motivated intentions to harm, you have lost all objectivity and will not be able to assess the value of the information correctly. When management views voices of caution as enemy propaganda, the stage is set for a major loss and summary firings of those who participated in forging ahead with the project.

When you look carefully at counter-intention, you need to distinguish what it is based on. Is the objection based on the lack of approval by august bodies of experts or the lack of advanced degrees in the development group? Or is it based on the performance of similar models in the past?

Doctors fought tooth and nail to discredit Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, who was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Doctors knew that it was not necessary to wash their hands between examining corpses and living patients. Everybody knows you need a college degree to become successful in business, but Bill Gates left Harvard after spending two years there to start Microsoft.

On the other hand, paying attention to the failures of earlier versions of what you are creating can pay huge dividends if you are willing to learn from their failures. When you look at why they failed or were not economically feasible, you will often find that the environment has changed enough that formerly unprofitable ventures are now economically feasible. Early automobiles were only useful to people who could travel with a mechanic and replace tires on the road. A modern car would not function on dirt roads with potholes and a distinct lack of charging stations. It is the interaction of good roads, service stations, wireless emergency communication, and satellite guidance systems for travelers that make modern road travel so convenient that your aged grandmother can do it.

The bottom line is that you can create a future event successfully if you can determine:

–what needs does it provide solutions for?

–Can it be done with the resources available?

–Will it provide an adequate return on the investment of time and energy?

–Can we provide solutions to every objection that has been raised to doing this event?

–Can we shut down the project safely if some major problem is discovered?

If you have been able to get this far, your project should be an unqualified success! Everyone you have recruited to help you should take credit in the accomplishment.

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