Forecasting is a tough business. It offers rather public exposure to one’s view, and if you’re wrong, the reminders can be jarring. So can the catcalls and the emails.
But it’s also a good test for judgment, strategic thinking and tactical suggestions. After all, if you aren’t willing to think broadly at the end of the year and the beginning of the new, then when are you supposed to have what I term “the big think.”
That’s why I’m pleased that all our experts went public with their predictions in this annual forecasting issue. You will note that we’ve solicited prognostications from across the industry.
There is mostly a lull during the holidays that turns into a slight buzz by mid-January, which should be just about the time you’re reading my column. The last vestige of the “new” year spirit and the accompanying pixie dust of enthusiasm should be dimming by now. I’ve read that something like 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions evaporate by February.
So why this forecasting issue? I would suggest that it serve as a reminder to all of you that planning for the future now makes sense because the spirit of change is never stronger. And striking while that sense of change still wafts in the air makes transformations, especially those that clearly involve and affect the rank and file, more timely.
I recognize that some companies prefer the annual planning strategy session later in the year, during a time the company leader(s) decides is best for a review. Sometimes it’s because of a fiscal year that doesn’t match the calendar, or certain product or sales demands require different timing. It’s also possible that I’m too enamored with the entire “end of the year, beginning of the new.” Frankly, I’m not sure.
But timing aside, nothing is more rewarding than sitting down and reading this ENTIRE issue over a cup of coffee and a bagel at Westmont (NJ) Bagel. That’s where I read the copy occasionally before you see it. For me, in a different location, I view and ponder the issue differently. (It doesn’t hurt that the coffee and bagels are terrific.) I would suggest that reading this issue might also have a positive impact on what you will do.
After all, in the end, the goal is unspectacular but important: Consider the way our experts view 2014 and think about whether you should make some change in YOUR business.
If one of our writer’s comments particularly intrigues you and might be more related to your business than the others, reach out to him. (All our prognosticators are men this year.)
At the very least, pay attention to Alan Beaulieu of ITR. He really does see the big picture. His monthly newsletter is an ideal way of catching a glimpse of the larger picture, which often trickles down to us whether we like it or not.
Happy (belated) New Year.
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