A technique that helps to show the intended and unintended impact of new products and services is the future wheel. In the center is the circle with the product under consideration. The immediately adjacent circles represent the desired direct impacts and effects of my product or service. We call them 1st order changes. However, with each new product and service, we understand that we have further, more distant effects. These effects are predictable, though less clear and obvious than the 1st order changes. We call them 2nd order changes. And then there are changes that we cannot imagine even with the greatest imagination, and these we call 3rd order changes.
An example of such an initial technology that we put in the center of the futures wheel is the first Soviet satellite Sputnik. We can easily imagine that these “sky eyes” will be used to track submarines and help them determine their position. This then logically results in a positioning system of many satellites hovering around the globe, and we know this as GPS. Well, and that benefited as 3rd order changes dating apps like Tinder or the restaurant app Yelp. This is a result and a use of technology that the developers of Sputnik in the 1950s certainly could never have imagined.
Listen to my explanation of the futures wheel and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd order changes while standing in front of some engineering feats in Strasbourg, France, that are used today for very different purposes than the engineers of the time could have imagined.