Combining Signals

The future does not come out of nowhere, it builds on existing building blocks that already exist. Mankind has created a vast number of such building blocks in its history. With each additional building block, the combination possibilities increase and sooner or later someone will combine them in a way that will help achieve the next breakthrough, or herald the end of an industry.

The question on everyone’s mind is, “How can I be that person?

Certainly not by sitting back and dismissing everything as hype. You can only create something new and have a say in it by diligently trying out different combinations of building blocks yourself.

And you don’t need a hundred-million-euro laboratory to do it. A simple piece of paper is enough. The first step is to take a new technology, a new business model, or a demographic trend, and combine several of them together in one sentence. We know something similar from improvisational and impromptu theater or from corresponding TV shows like ‘Frei Schnauze’ on RTL or. ‘Was gibt es Neues?’ from ORF. Whereas in improvisational theater the actors are thrown several terms, which they have to combine meaningfully and as humorously as possible into a story or sentences, in foresight there are several signals.

The sentence structure is important here. Here it is:

What if

Signal 1, Signal 2 and Signal 3

would come together, and make

thing 4


person / company / society


What if restaurants, freemium model and self-driving cars came together? What if motorcycles, artificial intelligence and advertising were combined? What if the Internet of Things, health and agriculture came together? You can see: the combination possibilities are endless.

This exercise teaches us a whole range:

  1. It gives us many ideas about the direction in which signals could develop;
  2. If we don’t try them, someone else will come up with the same idea;
  3. Every product and service, every technology, every process once started as such a combination of signals. Even if each of these combinations was once considered unfeasible, a mere thought exercise, or a silly idea, today they are established facts of life.

Here is a template for this Foresight Mindset technique:

Foresight Mindset: Combining Signals
Foresight Mindset: Combining Signals

And here how it can look filled:

Combining Signals - Filled Template
Combining Signals – Filled Template

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