Business and government, planning new products or developing new
policies, are also looking ahead, sometimes several years to the
time the product is available or the policy in operation. In doing
so they will make assumptions about the future in which the product
or policy will exist.
Yet if we were to be asked if we spent much time thinking about
the future we would most probably reply that we did not for a number
of reasons. These might include having enough to cope with in the
present to waste time thinking about things that may not happen,
or, thinking about past experience of forecasts that proved spectacularly
wrong, believing that we lack the ability to do so.
The problem, of course, comes when the future we thought about,
turns out to be not as we thought it would be. These occasions and
the inaccurate forecasts are the ones we tend to remember despite
the fact that more often than not in everyday life at least things
do turn out much as we thought they would.
Longer term forecasting in business and government is rather more
complicated and prone to error, but neither are just concerned to
predict the future, rather they attempt to influence what happens
through plans and policies designed to achieve their aims. These
involve both thinking about what the future might be and how we
can influence it.
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