Can Fresh Knowledge Help You Forecast Better?

15524891215_13a7893f7a_k When I was culling out the journals I receive in hopes of having less to read, I put the MIT technology review on the initial list. It has to go, I said to myself. I’m not in technology, so why should I spend time on technology. It does not serve my goals. It certainly isn’t in my list of topics that I need to achieve my goals. I cancelled my subscription, and it took less than 6 months before I knew I had made a mistake. I love technology review. Technology is a topic that I personally like to know about. It serves no other purpose than enjoyment – until I saw this article.

In the May/June 2011 issue of MIT’s technology review, there is a small article called Forecasting Futures about Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group, an early-stage venture investor that specializes in Internet and software startups. In this article, Feld talks about how he explores and identifies significant new technologies. He is making investment decisions and needs fresh knowledge to make wise ones. Talk about a situation where keeping fresh knowledge flowing is essential!

He talks first about his commitment to living with any field of innovation he thinks is important. “You must be a user of any and all technology.” He then describes how he became interested in how people will use technology to learn about their bodies and behaviors – about their lives. Then he jumped in and tried as much of the technology as possible. I appreciate his willingness to jump in, use, and collect experience and data about the technology when it is obviously early in its conceptual phase. Observation is such a powerful source of fresh knowledge – especially for scientists AND now for financial investors.

Then he goes on to say, “I’m not the source of any fundamental technology. Instead, I seek out and spend time with people who are.” For him it involves attending conferences, and asking people questions. “I’m not too bashful to ask,” he says, recognizing that deep knowledge is valuable.

In Riding the Current, there are stories of people who have deep knowledge and how differently they act in uncertain situations. They don’t survive these situations, they thrive in them and often seek them out. It’s as if the deep knowledge acts as a tether line that holds them steady while they wander in the ‘unknown.’

How do you develop your deep knowledge? Do you have a tether line that will allow you to explore totally new areas?

Photo by Sunchild57 Photography