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Reality check.

This is a good time to be a futurist. You give a speech--"change is coming!"--grab the check and off to the next podium. And no one can ever prove you totally wrong.

We all think we live in times of huge changes. Tell my grandmother that. She was born before Orville & Wilbur made their road trip to Kitty Hawk and lived to see Neil Armstrong hop around the Sea of Tranquility.

Things are always changing to one degree or another. History may pause from time to time, but it never stands still.

So it's probably time we start calling this "thing" we're in, what it is: a fundamental reordering of the markets and industries. Big-time change.

It's time to realize we're not going to wake up and find it's 2006. Gone. History. Nice to know you.

All the ways things will change are still being sorted out. But there is now little doubt that many companies are using these times, this--I hesitate to use the word--"opportunity" to change the ways in which they do business. Pick one thing in your business world that will be the same in 2010 as it was in 2006. It's probably a short list.

Twenty years ago the pundits dubbed this as the Asian century. Spot on. It's not only China and India. While Japan may be mired in borderline depression, those three, plus Korea have staked out seemingly permanent positions on the world industrial stage.

It's a three-player game now: EU and environs; North America; and Asia. South America could, at some point, change it to Western Hemisphere, but not right now.

Think all this "fundamental change" talk is stuff for futurists? How would the phrase "Caterpillar trucks with Navistar engines" have sounded 36 months ago?

Is it coincidence that in North America a lot of manufacturing seems to be migrating (again) to mostly non-union states?

In the ever-expanding EU, countries that never would have been considered business centers are now everyone's hot, new markets.

Some of the biggest deals in the last 24 months have involved Indian and Korean manufacturers.

Is there any place in the world the Chinese are not active? At Bauma China last year, they were clear that their next moves would be buying other companies or establishing manufacturing in Europe, South and North America. Witness Weichai Power's recent purchase of Moteurs Baudouin in France.

Ignoring that would be almost as ridiculous as the 1970s commentary that the Japanese would never be successful building cars in the U.S. Oops.

But this global financial reordering, which when all is said and done has actually concentrated more wealth in even fewer hands, has only accelerated an already changing world. Red ink tends to make you focus on what's real.

If any of your assumptions are routed in thinking before 2008, you may wanna get the strategy team back together.

It's "game on" all over the world. The problem is we're not exactly sure what game we're playing and who the all the players are.

Mike Osenga

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Title Annotation:TOP DEAD CENTER
Author:Osenga, Mike
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
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