The only sense that is common in the long run, is the sense of change and we all instinctively avoid it - E B White
One of the things about purely numeric forecasts is that they often show how unsustainable a trend can be. The "No Change Future State" shows what will happen if current trends continue (even though we know in the real world they won't). This isn't scenario planning, it's not strategy, and it's not a predictor - it's simply a conversation starter. Unfortunately, it's also the point at which most organisations stop their workforce planning & analytics efforts - they're not able to make the leap of faith from the hard numbers of the past to the "dark art" of scenario planning. Unfortunately, this can give you a false sense of confidence in your ability to predict the future.
Let's take The Fast & The Furious movie franchise and see what happens if you calculate the No Change Future State. The Fast & The Furious 6 has just been released, and the 7th movie in the franchise is already under development. What we want to forecast here is whether the movies will get better over time, how much they'll earn in their opening weekend, how quickly they will get released, and how long the movie will be. Let's take a look at the figures.
First, here's some of the details of the films so far:
Next, let's look at some of the key metrics over the history of the franchise so far:
Now, let's calculate a trendline and forecast it out to - say - movie #50 in the series:
Prediction: The Fast & Furious 50 will be released on the same day as Fast & Furious 49 (tweet this)
Prediction: Fast & Furious 50 will have a running time of just over 6 hours (tweet this)
Prediction: Fast & Furious 50 will make just over $1.3 Billion USD in its' opening weekend (tweet this)
So there you go - based on extrapolating historic trends, here is my relatively defensible but completely ridiculous prediction for the future of the Fast & Furious franchise:
The Fast and the Furious 50 will be released on the same day as The Fast and the Furious 49; will make around $1.3 Billion USD in its' opening weekend; will be just over 6 hours long; and will be a cinematic masterpiece (IMDB Rating 9.1); in the same league as The Godfather and Shawshank Redemption (both have an IMDB Rating of 9.2).
And that's the value of the No Change Future State - showing the trends, sustainable or otherwise, and starting a conversation. It doesn't mean it's going to pass the common sense test. Extrapolating existing data isn't enough - you need scenario planning to understand the range of possible futures ahead of you. There's value in the No Change Future State, but like all futuring - keep in mind that you're forecasting, not predicting!
Bonus: Trailer for Fast & Furious 6, in case you want to get on board now that you've read my predictions:
- We Watched Fast and Furious 6 So You Don't Have To (autoweekusa.kinja.com)
- The Complete History of Every Important Car in the "Fast & Furious" Franchise (complex.com)
- Why the 'Fast & Furious' Franchise Won't End (newsy.com)
- 5 Stunts From Fast & Furious 6 (hyyerthoughts.com)