So maybe the present isn't everything you were hoping it would be? (Hey, join the club!) But maybe, just maybe, the future is already headed this way, and maybe it's looking great. In fact, we think we know not only what the future looks like, but also where you can find it.
It's in the San Diego headquarters of Kyocera Wireless Corp., where Gary Koerper and a small band of heroes worked against the odds to perfect and bring to market the next gotta-have gadget: the Smartphone. Sure, when times are tough, it makes sense to cut spending. But it makes even more sense to work harder at innovation. Not that it's easy. As Hard Cell makes clear, if you want to invent the future, you've got to fight and win a host of battles in the present.
And you can find the future in some very interesting cities doing some very unexpected things. Take Boca Raton, Florida — a place most people think of as a retirement community for snowbirds. But a dynamic group of Boca-technos think that they're Livin' La Vida Boca. These entrepreneurs want their town to be the heart of the Internet Coast, the epicenter of the next leap forward in the emerging world of wireless. Or check out Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com, Boeing, and Microsoft, Seattle at first blush looks like heaven for engineers. But the leaders of the city see the future depending on a whole different agenda — more arts than DOS, more culture than code. In Seattle Reboots Its Future, you'll discover the power of an urban strategy in creating the future.
Another place to find the future? It's alive and well in the Land of the Free — free agents, that is. Dan Pink, who first chronicled the rise of Free Agent Nation three years ago, returns with an update. As his report makes clear, economic downturn or no economic downturn, there's no going back to the past for the still-growing number of Americans who work at nontraditional jobs. In fact, says Dan, two out of three Californians now work in jobs that don't fit the old world order. That's a glimpse of the future of work.
Ray Ozzie, meanwhile, has another glimpse of the future of work — and it's got a nice Groove. The man who created Lotus Notes is back with a new software tool that makes collaboration as easy and as much fun as playing jazz — a whole new way to work together in the future.
In Past Track to the Future, Stephen Ambrose, one of this country's preeminent historians, says that we can learn about the future of work by studying the past. In fact, he says, building the new economy today is a lot like building the transcontinental railroad in the 1800s: Leaders need to embrace both urgency and patience. And in The Voice of Experience, you'll find advice from eight seasoned leaders who've seen it all.
It's all here: past, present, and future — the abiding lessons of business.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.