This is a post on Core77 with Kevin McCullagh about how we can sift through all these trends and figure out what's useful to the client. In the case of our assignment the client is ourselves and the direction of our first project.
He has 8 tips I'll try paraphrase:
1) Frame the Scope and Focus - start by defining clear parameters, then move into deciding what trends are key
2) Take a Long and Wide View - look beyond fads and take a big picture perspective. Try to understand an issue accross a broad range, this will help avoid getting blind sided by developments in other areas
3) Put Sociology Before Technology - This I thought was profound:
"Two of the most notable shifts in Western societies over the past few decades have been the elevated role of women in society and the fragmentation of societies into a culture of mistrust and fear. Neither was widely predicted; both have little to do with technology."
4) Get under the surface - Try to look beyond mere description and simply extrapolating existing trends into the future. If we don't understand why something is happening, we cannot anticipate how important it will become.
5) Be an Inforned Contrarian - Be well informed and skeptical. Look for counter trends, because every trend will have one and if you choose the wrong side of the coin it'll cost.
6) Have a Point of View - "Your client or manager wants to know what it all means, and how the contradictions will resolve themselves in their specific business situation. Foresight is not really about making predictions, but presenting a credible, coherent and compelling narrative about the future as a stimulus for discussion and decision making."
7) Be Specific About Impacts - if it's not relevant, don't bring it up
8) Track and Tack - "Foresight is best treated as an iterative exercise and not a one-off exercise. Futurist Paul Saffo advises forecasters to "hold strong opinions weakly... If you must forecast then forecast often--and be the first to prove yourself wrong." We build a framework of assumptions about the future, and then review and update it on a regular basis. It is an incredibly enlightening exercise!"