Predicting The Future

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Loving Chip and Dan Heath’s new book, Decisive, on how people and teams make decisions, usually bad decisions.

The Heaths write about studies that have been conducted on experts’ ability to predict the future and it turns out, they can’t. Even in their areas of expertise they have no idea what’s going to happen. They say, “Whenever possible, we should get out of the business of prediction altogether.”

Interestingly, entrepreneurs tend to have an aversion to prediction. Saras Sarasvathy a professor at the Darden School of Business told Inc. magazine, “If you give entrepreneurs data that has to do with the future, they just dismiss it.” In fact, a survey found that 60% of Inc. 500 CEOs had not even written business plans before launching their companies. They just didn’t have that kind of faith in their ability to see the future. Instead, the Heaths explain, entrepreneurs get to work. They don’t do market research, they look for clients to sell to. Instead of wondering if something will work, they design ways to test it in reality.

Sarasvathy says most corporate executives favor prediction. Their belief seems to be, “To the extent that we can predict the future, we can control it.” In contrast, entrepreneurs favor active testing: “To the extent that we can control the future, we do not need to predict it.” She also explains that larger organizations are increasingly moving towards the more entrepreneurial mindset.

If you’re a church planter, how does this apply for you? And if you’re the pastor of an established church, is it possible you need to start thinking a bit more like a church planter?


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