Atlassian work futurist Dominic Price says don't bother trying to predict the future – instead, try to 'unlearn' habits you've built in the past

Dominic Price. Image, supplied.
  • Atlassian work futurist Dominic Price highlighted the danger of businesses trying to predict the future.
  • He explained that “if you predict too far ahead, you just end up building things that get you there to prove yourself”.
  • Price also discussed the importance of unlearning to make way for you to learn something new.

If you want to prepare for the future, don’t try to predict it.

That’s a nugget of advice from Atlassian work futurist Dominic Price, who has been with the software business for just over 6 years.

Price was one of the speakers at the Atlassian Open event in Sydney on October 1, with his session exploring better approaches of working that will help you grow.

Speaking to Business Insider Australia after his session, Price highlighted the dangers of predicting the future.

“There is this temptation to try and predict the future,” he said. “It’s normally a fallacy. Because if you predict too far ahead, you just end up building things that get you there to prove yourself. Because it’s way better for your ego.”

What Atlassian does instead, Price explained, is build a culture around experimentation and exploration.

“We have so much uncertainty in our business and with our customers, we can’t predict the future,” Price said. “If we do, really weird things happen. So instead of predicting the future, we go, ‘hang on, what can we understand’?

“We can understand that teams are more distributed, we understand that people coming through the system are more educated, we understand that [there are] more generations in the workforce, there’s more diversity…We understand all these trends. How do we build an environment that supports those trends?”

Price added that at Atlassian, when the company experiments and explores, it also has to be open to the fact that half its experiments go wrong.

“Suddenly, what you then realise is your superpower is your ability to learn and adapt faster than the next best person.”

It’s a process, Dominic said, that requires resilience, vulnerability and commitment.

The value of unlearning

Price discussed Atlassian’s desire to be more open – both as a way of being and a way of working. However, being more open also means you might have to unlearn habits you have built in the past.

“So when we think about this openness and unlearning, what we’re talking about is saying, how can you be the best version of you, not the best version of you in work – the best version of you full stop,” he said.

“And so we have to unlearn a whole [lot] of habits with family, with friends and in work. And then when you unlearn, you suddenly realise you’ve got the space, the freedom to be open, to try something new.”

Price added that unlearning is acknowledging that what got you to where you are now, isn’t necessarily what will get you to the next stage.

“What I know is that the thing that I used to do isn’t going to pay the same dividend in the future, because the world around me is changing, so I have to evolve,” Price said.

And this principle doesn’t only apply to your personal life, but in business as well.

“In reality – and this is what we see with organisations – you don’t have to evolve,” Price said. “You have a choice. And Atlassian, we’ve chosen to evolve, we want to stay more relevant.

“For us, this is around saying how are we open to understanding the future of work? How are we open to unlearning our old habits, and then how [are] we open to trying something new?”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.