The World Not According to Jack

Predicting three main trends in the foreseeable future

1. CEOs in trouble

One is tempted to go the whole hog (excuse the expression) and title this "Death of a CEO". But honesty compels (at least some of us) to define it as a period of radical change that will by nature force executives to change their ways. Fortune put it well: Sorry, Jack, and then proceeded to show how each and every one of the all-but-sainted business leader's tenets are dead wrong these days

Fortune now counsels management to cast its eyes beyond events at the company, beyond efficiency and paradigms like Six-Sigma. The rationale is that while working on the next generation of the Sony playstation or X-box, Apple is out there distributing its ipod which could steal market share not only from video and media players, but - a bit - from the games market too. While you're fixating on developing the next Word or some other word processor, dozens of startups are offering gigas of space to store documents on Internet, on sites that naturally offer word processing to all comers. For free yet.

The world today is one of unstable business models, products that vanish in a night (especially in hi-tech), and Fortune thinks that Jack's model of being No. 1, or at worst No. 2, is not relevant any more. What you want to do is carve out a niche (meaning you are actually No. 1, in a niche that had not existed before you came along.)

Sorry, Jack. Your new model for emulation should be Steve Jobs, says Fortune, the brilliant innovator from Apple, not the efficiency mania of Jack, who's still thinking of manpower shuffles.

2. Right-hemisphere economics

The right side of the brain is responsible for intuition, non-logical trains of thought. It has become key to the economics of the time.

An innumerable flood of products and marketing stimuli are geared to one message: only innovators survive. Innovation and design are the buzz-words of today. Take the ipod, a work of genius in its simplicity and design. Or there is the invention of instant messaging, the user-friendly interface of ICQ. Thinking outside the box, that's what it takes today. Find a product that the public didn't know it wanted and convince it that it does.

3. Diversification

This is a trend that crosses borders and industries. First of all, outsourcing, which in the U.S. has spread from answering service calls and basic maintenance, to legal services as well. There is P2P offshoring, where programmers from various countries carry out your idea for a startup: you just provide the specifications. Diversification like this makes your enterprise ultra-lean, with production, telemarketing and the like carried out from India, China or wherever.

That aspect of globalization will surely grow stronger in 2007. But there will be another effect related to Internet: the deficit of an organization for the edification of the masses. Content will be created by surfers (or, as marketers would have it - by consumers). Note the harbinger of the trend in the spreading corporate habit of asking surfers what they think, or to imagine a product they'd like, letting surfers vote on logos and slogans. This evolution of the enterprise into a sort of board of the people is one of the most interesting developments of our time.