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In today’s world, you have to think ahead just to keep up.

At the rapid pace of modern society, things change so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up. It’s no longer enough to simply watch what people are doing and meet them where they are.

Now we have to think ahead, make projections based on where we think things could go rather than where we see them going.

This makes us futurists. This requires us to keep our eyes peeled and instincts tuned so that we can see a few steps ahead of the game. If we put out a new product or a new piece of work based on what we see going on now, unless we can turn it out really quickly we will be behind the curve by the time we are done.

How do we do this? We look at technology. We look at culture. We look at past trends. Then we use all this information to extrapolate and form a picture of where we see things possibly going.

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? None of us are psychics. We can’t see the future, but we can make an educated guess. After all, isn’t that what scientists and science fiction writers have been doing for decades?

Look at Star Trek. Look at Apple. These are great examples of taking today’s world and carrying the ideas out a little further than you can see just to imagine what might be.

Fifty years ago when Gene Roddenberry created the TV series Star Trek, he imagined amazing things that would inhabit the world of the 23rd century such as interplanetary travel, faster-than-light warp speed travel, the flip-up communicator, and the iconic transporter.

Now, we may not have warp drives or transporters, but we have many things today that make Roddenberry’s 23rd century seem quaint by comparison. Two centuries early, we already have rovers on Mars, and that flip-up communicator feels antiquated next to the smartphone you’re probably reading this on.

Which brings us to Apple.

Today, Apple has a reputation for developing products that seem slightly ahead of their time. (In fact, I’m watching an Apple keynote presentation on my iPad as I edit this post.)

But Apple got its start when two guys, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, saw beyond not just the enormous size of 1970s-era computers, but how they could be used. Computers once took up rooms and were used mainly for business and science, performing calculations and retrieving information from tape-driven databases.

The Steves imagined not only a smaller computer that could fit on your desk, but that it could be used in classrooms to educate, studios to create art and music, and homes to balance the checkbook and provide entertainment. The Apple II desktop computer not only changed people’s perceptions of what a computer could do, it changed the course of computing forever. Soon, all computers were desktop sized. Now, a computer that once would only fit inside a skyscraper now fits in your pocket. That portability has changed society forever.

It’s really a beautiful thing when you think about it, isn’t it?

Creative Thinking Today — Business Innovation Tomorrow

What are some things you notice in today’s world? How might they look in 5 to 10 years? How might be look into years? What is the next thing to catch fire that you can’t even see smoldering right now?

Take some time this week to dream. Take a little time this afternoon, or tomorrow morning to imagine the future. Now see where your company fits in with that future. You don’t have to create the warp drive, but you just might.

What can you offer tomorrow that will be right on time?

Need some inspiration to jumpstart your creative thinking? This article may help.