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Plan for the expected, prepare for the unexpected.

A worldwide economic collapse is extremely likely in the next few years. Those unprepared may stand naked before a crisis unseen in the U.S. since the Civil War.

That's a quotation in a letter from the World Future Society, which forecasts social and technological trends for the next 25 years, soliciting my long-lapsed membership renewal.

The World Future Society, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is a prestigious, worldwide organization with 30,000 members in 80 countries and local chapters in 120 cities. Their forecasts merit attention.

It is not my intention to scare you with the above quotation but to remind you that anything is possible today in this volatile world.

You need to work with vision, plan globally and, most importantly, exhibit the courage to take risks. If you do all this, and major, unforeseen events occur, does that "take you off the hook?" NO.

In the same letter from the World Future Society they say, "The best person to forecast your future is you. Why? Because you can influence and change your future in ways that no one else can."

I remember many friends in this business, particularly in California, who told me prior to the latest recession that California would never have problems. "After all," they said, "people are flocking into this state in such numbers that we will never have a recession here."

These people seemed oblivious to the threat of earthquakes, fires, mudslides, pollution, water shortages, congestion, financial deficits, riots and real estate values that could only be sustained in a Hollywood scenario.

It should have been obvious that corrections would occur. The old cliche, "We are doomed to repeat history who ignore it," was never more relevant.

I haven't had any comments recently from those people in California. And it's not my intention to single out California as unique. Many other areas have gone through similar cycles and will in the future. California is just a recent, glaring example.

Learn to interpret "the news" you are fed every day. A good example is an editorial I read recently by John Vanvig, Rural Electric News Service, reprinted in the June, 1992 issue of the Rural Minnesota News, on changes in rural farm life. Vanvig writes, "...some part of me is sick and tired of big urban papers crying over changes I'm not sure they understand. Farm life has dramatically changed. Fifty years ago, there might have been four farms in a square mile. Today (quoting another researcher), one man can farm 1,600 acres. These things happen naturally."

Compare this trend, which any reasonably intelligent person in this country should have been able to forecast, with the non-sensical, almost hysterical hyperbole surrounding preservation efforts for "the family farm" and you should be able to separate fact from fiction.

The title of this editorial was "Windmills and Weeds." How apropos.

Most of the World Future Society forecasts are optimistic technological forecasts, many of them in telecomm, that portend a bright future few of us can fully visualize or comprehend in 1992. But we need to try. And we need always to keep in mind that these rosy scenarios can be upset by cataclysmic occurrences, both social and economic, that shake civilizations to their core.

Their letter sums up their position--and this should be your position--when they say, "If you agree that the future consists of a variety of alternatives, that choice is unavoidable, and that refusing to choose is itself a choice, you have taken the first step toward a more active role in your own future."

The U.S. economy seems to be on a better track the past few months and many indicators are favorable for the first time in several years. We all hope--and expect--this trend will continue. The moral is, however, expect the unexpected, design for the worst case, and don't be lulled into complacency by fair-weather prophets who don't share your risk and insight.

[Augie Blegen is a telecomm consultant and executive director of the Association of Data Communications Users, Inc., P.O. Box 385728, Bloomington, MN 55348, (612) 881-6803.]
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Datacomm User
Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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