Why Weak Signals Matter
The future is unknown, but it’s coming. And it’s possible to see and prepare for.
How? Look for strategic inflection points. Monitor them. Prepare for them, and then take action when (and if) the time is right.
“A strategic inflection point is a change in the business environment that dramatically shifts some element of your activities, throwing certain ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions into question.” — Rita McGrath, Seeing Around Corners
Inflection points happen gradually, then suddenly.
Inflection points are caused by technological changes, regulatory changes, new social possibilities, demographic changes, new connections and political changes.
Which one is going to rock your boat? Which one is going to cause a dramatic shift for you or your business? We don’t know- yet, but over time we will.
There are five stages in the development of inflection points:
- Weak Signal — This is the earliest stage. At this stage signals might be in the form of rumors, senses, patterns among a small group or groups, hunches, areas of interest, individual insights. People are aware of them, they are being talked about, but it’s quiet, it’s behind the scenes, no one is taking any strong stands on these, yet.
- Hype — This is the stage where people are excited, sometimes VERY excited. Pundits start claiming the entire world will be overturned, and we all begin to wonder if it is going to be the next big thing
- Dismissive — This often feels like the crash stage. It’s after the hype when the world didn’t completely change overnight. It is also the stage where some of the overhyped players may fade. Only a few of the original entrants may survive this stage.
- Emergent — This is a quieter, more concrete stage in which viable businesses are being built. Real use cases gain momentum and the foundations are laid for the future that’s coming.