Forbes wants us to learn an important history lesson:

History cannot be used to reliably predict the future, and data-driven extrapolation from past trends or 'analysis by analogy'--practices rife in the business and financial sectors--are particularly hazardous because they can give decision makers an unjustified sense of confidence. However, history is vital to understanding present conditions; without such knowledge, strategic policy planning efforts are likely to go awry.

Unfortunately, a lot of workforce planning software does exactly that, which is dangerous.

However, the main part of the article talks about how historical data is very important in making future policy decisions (the article means government policy, but the same applies for HR strategy and policy of course – workforce planning), provided it’s done right.   For me, this means mixing it with other futuring techniques and not using historical data alone…and then measuring progress so you can respond when you are inevitably incorrect in some of your assumptions…

Use historical analysis…with care.  Nice article – thanks to Katherine Jones for sending it over!