Maree Conway on Futures Think nicely explains why prediction isn't, and really shouldn't, be part of strategic thinking:
Predictions are based on our understanding of the past and the present. They have less to do with what might happen in the future, and more to do with the writer succumbing to the ‘top 10 list’ syndrome that afflicts us at this time of the year. In this era of data driven decision making, why do we believe that predictions are valid when they are little more than crystal ball gazing?
Strategic thinking is taking a deliberate stance to think about what the future might bring, and then decide how to respond today. Strategic thinking always, let me repeat that, always takes the view that there are multiple possible futures, not one certain future. It involves people sharing their knowledge, expertise and informed intuition to build a shared view of what the future might bring – not will bring….
If you want to think strategically, stop thinking about predictions and move to the possibility space – where you ask questions such as: What is possible and why? What does it mean for us? How might we respond? What can we do now? Predictions trigger no such questioning because their writers assume their is no human choice influencing the future. They assume the future is fixed because it will be a linear projection of today.
Note that this formulation doesn't mean that we shouldn't be held accountable when we tell clients or readers things that are outrageously wrong, or entertaining but non-serious; but that it's important to maintain a sense of the future as unknowable because humans have free will.
When clients want to know "what's my track record" or "what did I get right," I now ask them if they believe in free will. If they say yes (and they always do), I say that if humans have free will, the future should not be predictable in the way that a mechanical system is predictable: the best we can do is correctly identify the forces that will shape the future, think with clients about how those may interact, and design things that help them respond to potential futures. Prediction isn't what we're about. Some clients don't like that, but others respect a willingness to say that the future is fundamentally unknowable (for a very good reason), and that we can still learn useful things from the inevitably incomplete effort to imagine it.