The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream

The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream

“How did we miss that?” is perhaps the scariest question for a business leader to face: it's the one that they have to ask themselves when one day they wake up to discover that a competitor or startup has just released something new that changes their world forever. If you're asking this question, it's probably too late: you didn’t see this important new development coming...

DownloadRead Online
Title:The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream
Author:Amy Webb
Rating:
ISBN:1610396669
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:336 pages

The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream Reviews

  • Amy Webb
    Nov 24, 2016
  • Monnie
    Nov 09, 2016

    Consider me mind-boggled!

    But it's not for the first time. That happened somewhere around 1970, when I tried to wrap my head around Alvin Toffler's

    (followed by

    and

    . Then came books by John Naisbitt, such as

    , and Faith Popcorn's

    . Yes, folks, I eat this stuff up. And now, thanks to an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, comes this one - and it's made no less of an impressio

    Consider me mind-boggled!

    But it's not for the first time. That happened somewhere around 1970, when I tried to wrap my head around Alvin Toffler's

    (followed by

    and

    . Then came books by John Naisbitt, such as

    , and Faith Popcorn's

    . Yes, folks, I eat this stuff up. And now, thanks to an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, comes this one - and it's made no less of an impression.

    The author has developed a six-part process for forecasting - a way of evaluating new ideas being developed on the "fringe" (a.k.a. around the edges of society) that stand to affect us. Futurists, she says, listen to and interpret the signals that are "talking," looking for early patterns, or pre-trends. "Trends help us to understand change, which is an essential part of every organization's mandate," she writes. "Too often, leaders ignore the signals, wait too long to take action, or plan for only one scenario."

    Descriptors like "probable," "plausible" and "possible" are used to generate concrete ideas about what's over the horizon. "We must think of trends as signposts that can illuminate the conditions we will likely encounter at some point in the future, even if that future is a century away," the author explains. "Organizations must track them if they are to create their preferred futures...seeing trends is a matter of looking for emerging changes at the fringe, within organizations, and in our societies."

    In a nutshell, if it's possible to put it there, the book is about the importance of not being surprised by the future, offering a method for creating a path that leads to sustained success. Unlike some of the books mentioned above, it's not a list of what we can expect to happen in the next 10, 20 or 50 years; rather, it's a way to help ensure that organizations will be going strong throughout all those years to come.

    Along the way, the author explains finer points such as the difference between something that's "trendy" and a "trend." No doubt it's a silly analogy, but if I interpret it anywhere near correctly, an Erector set is (or was) trendy, but the fact that children love to tear things down and build them up again is a trend that's likely to continue indefinitely. Harness your company's future to the first, and you may be out of business the minute a newer kid hits the building block; on the second, and you're likely to stay ahead of the curve.

    Roadblocks to identifying the signals are discussed as well, such as the "duality dilemma" between left- and right-brain thinking (put another way, creativity vs. logic) and the need to look at things from both sides now. This I understand; I identify far more closely with the logic side, which most likely explains why I've enjoyed relative success as a journalist (just the facts, ma'am) but couldn't write a novel if my life depended on it. It's also, I'm thinking, one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much; everything is laid out in an orderly, easy-to-understand manner.

    That includes, for the record, a glossary of concepts and terms and a chapter-by-chapter list of footnoted references at the end. Highly recommended for anyone interested in expanding leadership skills (or like me, simply interested in the topic).

  • Darren
    Nov 08, 2016

    Is your antenna in tune? Are you looking forward and trying to scan what the future may bring, or are you looking the other way and missing out on what may be the next competitive advantage, new trend or industry breakthrough? What signals are you scanning for?

    This interesting book seeks to get you thinking about the future, trying to identify signals emerging from the fringes about future mainstream trends, demands and needs. Clearly it can be an inexact science with no guarantees, yet the auth

    Is your antenna in tune? Are you looking forward and trying to scan what the future may bring, or are you looking the other way and missing out on what may be the next competitive advantage, new trend or industry breakthrough? What signals are you scanning for?

    This interesting book seeks to get you thinking about the future, trying to identify signals emerging from the fringes about future mainstream trends, demands and needs. Clearly it can be an inexact science with no guarantees, yet the author believes that you can easily learn how to identify these faint signals and then move to either being ready to capitalise on a developing situation or at least be ready for it. No being taken by surprise here. The harder part is possibly doing things with the gathered intelligence; that falls down to you...

    As well as looking forward, the author examines cases of one-time leaders who managed to be toppled because they didn’t, or couldn’t, react to impending changes. Not everybody can be a global leader, of course, although many companies can still feed from the broader ecosystem and its requirements, if only they are ready for it. So learn by the mistakes or inaction of others.

    There is a six-step process behind the author’s learning procedure, although it is far from a quick-fix, tick-box approach. You have to do a lot of research, analysis and maybe even change your way of thinking and working. The process is not a one-time process either, in itself, since once you have learned the new way of thinking and doing you will still have your ongoing intelligence-gathering and analysis activities to undertake as well as any possible implementation work. Reserve a lot of time, it can be a necessity on many levels.

    Throughout the book there is a sort-of chatty narrative going on, which makes things a little easier on the mind, as a lot of useful, essential information is being disgorged from the book into your brain. It is a book that requires your focus, despite it being accessible and easy-to-read. At the end is an excellent glossary of concepts and terms that can be very helpful along with references for further and deeper reading.

    Many people may try and fail with their attempts at looking into the future, through no fault of this book, yet those who persevere and succeed can stand to gain tremendously or, at least, be aware of changes that could lead to otherwise massive losses. Definitely a book to consider.

    Autamme.com

  • Todd
    Dec 25, 2016

    What’s a legitimate trend versus what’s just trendy? This is the question Amy Webb wants to better equip us to answer using the general perspectives and specific thought processes laid out in

    . Besides the occasional TED-talky-listen-to-me-and-your-world-will-be-forever-changed feel to the book, its most significant weakness may be the lack of an obvious audience. But, that’s really an issue for the publisher and publicist to worry about. Importantly, most readers who do f

    What’s a legitimate trend versus what’s just trendy? This is the question Amy Webb wants to better equip us to answer using the general perspectives and specific thought processes laid out in

    . Besides the occasional TED-talky-listen-to-me-and-your-world-will-be-forever-changed feel to the book, its most significant weakness may be the lack of an obvious audience. But, that’s really an issue for the publisher and publicist to worry about. Importantly, most readers who do find their way to this intriguing book would find plenty to think about and many may find specific ideas/tools to actively implement. For those wanting to hear what the signals are saying, Webb provides three essential ideas/tools: (1) a method for forecasting future trends which, (2) involves identifying patterns in technology usage and, (3) encourages a dynamic that switches between broader and narrower perspectives. While developing her framework, Webb offers a variety of statistical tidbits to catch the reader’s attention and case studies to which she applies her methodology. Some of the analysis is a post-hoc overlaying of her approach to already played out or ongoing trends, but the ideas are every bit worth considering. Why? The rate of change is faster than ever and it is only getting faster. Whether you are a decision maker at your job, an investor, an educator or just someone who likes to keep up, tracking what’s next is going to get harder as it all goes faster. To illustrate this point, Webb offers rates of widespread adoption for three technologies: 30 years for washing machines, 15 years for color televisions and 8 years for smartphones. Or, consider the fact that in 1983, 46% of 16 year olds got their driver’s licenses while that number was down to 24% in 2014. This second set of stats leads into one of Webb’s most detailed case studies, Uber. How Uber came to be, where it may go and why other start-ups vying to the “Uber for X” are most likely to fail is considered in detail. Towards the end of

    , Webb turns her attention to the social and ethical impacts associated with technology. As a teacher and parent concerned about the interplay between technology and work for my students and children, I found these parts to be the most compelling even as they played second fiddle to Webb’s primary focus on forecasting. All-in-all, a compelling set of ideas and ones I’m likely to return to again and again. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to pick this book up, but I’m glad I did.

  • Kelly
    Jan 08, 2017

    There were some good insights and examples in here. If someone was looking for a scenario planning framework, I'd suggest one like this:

    , over the one in this book, which had a long-winded structure and at times seemed forced (i.e. steps fit into the acronyms CIPHER and FUTURE).

    Some good works to read before or after this book:

    , Mark Andersen's work on pattern recognition,

    There were some good insights and examples in here. If someone was looking for a scenario planning framework, I'd suggest one like this:

    , over the one in this book, which had a long-winded structure and at times seemed forced (i.e. steps fit into the acronyms CIPHER and FUTURE).

    Some good works to read before or after this book:

    , Mark Andersen's work on pattern recognition,

    ,

  • Akram El-korashy
    Jan 10, 2017

    For regular followers of tech news/articles, the book may be largely redundant. I enjoyed it only slightly because of that.

  • Theodore Kinni
    Jan 04, 2017

    Good, practical 6-step process for identifying and creating scenarios around emerging trends

  • Donald Herrick
    Jan 13, 2017

    This book shows how technology will increasingly affect all aspects of our lives. We will need better education in all areas of human knowledge but especially in sciences, mathematics, and computer sciences. People in government will have tremendous effect on our future and my not be well prepared to make good decisions.