People often erroneously plan for specific futures. This leads down a pathway to failure most times.
This is because the future is rarely what we expect it to be. We can think in terms of multiple possible futures, and prepare for most of them. This leads us towards flexibility and adaptabiity.
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What does it mean to be future thinking to prepare for the future? In today's episode, I'm going to hopefully change your mind a little bit about what this means. My name is Jonathan Cutrelly and you're listening to Developer Tea. If you have thought about preparing for the future on your team or in a project, you likely have tried to predict the future. What this looks like is imagining some particular path, some way that you expect things to unfold. For example, you might expect a particular kind of scaling in your company or a particular metric to scale within your business, the need for data storage or for customer support, for example. And it's very tempting to think that preparing for the future really means preparing for that particular path, doing something to get ready for something that you imagine is going to happen. And this is wrong. We're going to talk about why it's wrong right after we talk about today's topic. Today's episode is brought to you by Square. There are millions of sellers across the globe using Square to run every aspect of their business. Many of them are looking for custom solutions. They're deeply connected, easy to use. This is where you, as a good developer, can come in and solve their problems. You can grow your business by extending or integrating with Square's free APIs and SDKs and build tools for those millions of sellers. Learn more by going to developer.com slash square. It's developer.com slash square. Thanks again to Square for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Creating the future is a vein task trying to do so is going to lead you down a lot of paths that you don't want to go down. This is because we're really bad at prediction as human beings and especially bad at predicting precisely what will happen. What we're good at is looking at comparisons, creating models that are comprehensive, that systematically work together. Instead of predicting and building for a specific future, it makes more sense to imagine plausible scenarios. Instead of thinking we're going to scale on this particular metric, we should instead think about a future. Rather than thinking about a metric, we're thinking about a future. That means that we're thinking about multiple variables that go together. Building pictures that we imagine could happen. This is the goal of a pre-mortem. Why would we fail? Is the question that a pre-mortem is trying to get you to answer? What are the ways that we might fail? And that gives you a different way, a different lens of thinking about the pathway to failure. What we're talking about here is how might we change? What futures could be in store? A good task is to think about, let's say, three to five different scenarios and think about them in detail. Imagine what kind of situation you would be in, what kinds of external and internal variables would need to be in place for this particular scenario to be true. And it makes sense to come up with not only a reasonable scenario, what you might consider your expected future, but also adjacent to reasonable things that are less expected but are still plausible. And then think about things that are on the edges of expectation. Things that are less plausible but still possible. These are scenarios where you do extremely well. Luck is on your side and you make all the right decisions. And then there's scenarios where everything seems to go the wrong way. Now when you look at these scenarios, how can you plan for both the ones that you expect the most and as many of the others as possible? Is there a decision that you can make that allows you to be flexible to move in all of those directions rather than in just one? What it means to be future oriented is thinking about how to make the most flexible decisions, not preparing for any one specific vision, which might be visionary oriented, but instead thinking about the future in terms of all of the many possibilities and being open to all of those as well. The future thinker is not in a constraint oriented mindset, but instead in an enablement-oriented mindset. You want to enable being able to deal with all of those various scenarios as many of those things as possible. And of course, there's lots of fancy ways that you can do this, assigning expected value or expected risk to each of the scenarios and then waiting your decisions based off of those. But really what we need to capture for this episode, what I want you to walk away with, is that future oriented is not about planning for one scenario. If you want to be future oriented, you're thinking about multiple scenarios. And you're making decisions that are conscious of that. You may choose to kind of go all in on one or two of those scenarios or you may choose to be more conservative and make decisions that remain kind of flexible that allow you to go down any of those paths as you see fit to the situation. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to Square for sponsoring today's episode. Head over to developertea.com. And to get started with their free APIs and SDKs, to build tools for millions of sellers today. If you enjoyed this episode, I'd encourage you to do two things. Number one, subscribe and whatever podcasting app you're currently using. And number two, join the ongoing conversation with other engineers who are growing and developing in their careers and in their personal lives every day at developertea.com slash discord. It's a free discord community, 100% free, we're not selling anything in there. We're never going to monetize that specific community. Come and check it out. Head over to developertea.com slash discord. That community exists just to empower you in your career. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, enjoy your tea.