In my New York Times bestselling book, Flash Foresight, I shared a proven methodology I have developed and refined over the decades for separating Hard Trends, those future facts that will happen, from Soft Trends, those assumptions about the future that might happen. By learning how to accurately anticipate much of the future before it happens, you can accelerate innovation and competitive advantage.
One of the categories of Hard Trends — government regulations — might surprise you. Whenever a new law is passed, there are both predictable opportunities and consequences. In addition, many new regulations have a form of funding, either in money or tax incentives, to encourage the underlying change the regulation is seeking.
Thanks to the increasing speed of transformational changes driven by exponential technologies, new legislation and regulation will be needed. No matter what any politician of any philosophical persuasion might
argue, we’re going to have more government regulation in the future, not less. This is true for every country, no matter the location, history or prevailing political climate.
Many organizations might react to that news with howls of frustration. That’s because whenever we hear about a new regulation, we look for the things we don’t like about it, and the list is always very long. But for an Anticipatory Organization, it’s far more constructive to approach the new regulation with a proactive attitude as well as an eye toward any game-changing opportunities that may result.
Regulation — Part of Our Past and Our Future
Using the United States as just one example, there was understandably little regulation in place after the founding of the republic. Over time, however, that began to change. For instance, between 1865 and 1900 Congress began to introduce independent regulatory commissions such as the Interstate Commerce Commission. This was founded in response to charges that farmers and merchants were being forced to pay exorbitant railroad rates to ship their products to market.
That trend has done anything but slow down. In 2015, according to one source, the Federal Register reported more than 3,000 final rules and regulations, with thousands more proposed.
It’s true that you can’t predict all of the new regulations a new administration will try to pass, but it is amazing how much you can accurately predict regardless of what party has the majority of votes. For example, will we have increasing regulation concerning cybersecurity? Will we see increasing regulations around rapidly growing technologies such as autonomous vehicles and drones? You know the answer is yes.
Complain — or Anticipate
In speaking to audiences throughout the world, I often make the following statement: “There will be more government regulations in the future. If anyone disagrees, raise your hand.”