Fast Forward 2005: 45-49

The future is something to get excited about again. Here’s our look at the surprising people, ideas, and trends that will change how we work and live in 2005.


45. A Blameless Existence

John G. Miller, a consultant, has written what publishing experts think will be the next Who Moved My Cheese? Miller’s QBQ! The Question Behind the Question is all about embracing personal responsibility for what happens around us and getting out of the blame game. Our first instinct was to point fingers, but there’s some merit here. And thankfully, the book’s not a fable, though it is overly simplistic: Some things really are out of our control. The book was a self-publishing juggernaut, selling 300,000 copies, and now G.P. Putnam’s Sons is giving it a big push. So don’t be surprised when a manager foists it on you.


46. Robocopter

A pilotless helicopter could be the next homeland security defense. Although that’s its primary use, other potential markets include public utilities, where the Steadicopter could be used to inspect high-voltage lines, and media outlets, which would use the helicopter to tape live events. (L.A. low-speed car chases will never be the same!) The chopper, based on technology spun out from Technion, Israel’s answer to MIT, is already capable of fully autonomous flight (no humans at the controls). Next stop: salesville.

47. Bye, Bye, Forecasting Template

Strategy is always perfect on paper. Just like a blind date. But when strategy has to be executed, that’s when failure creeps in. Perhaps the whole convoluted process of devising sunny strategic visions and filling out templates needs to be permanently retired, argues Mercer Management Consulting. The idea is gaining traction as leading companies such as IBM and Philips move away from the empty practice of strategic planning and instead work to integrate strategy and execution. Instead of asking, “What should we do?” ask “Why should we do it?” Attacking the assumptions and the risks instead of just setting up targets, focusing on the cost of executing versus what the message is, will result in a more nimble, effective plan.

48. Get Small

Steve Martin talked about this in the 1970s, but we don’t think this was what he had in mind. The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis is working on a drug, Acomplia, which helps patients shed excess pounds. The company is expected to file for approval in 2005. Acomplia also boosts the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), and it can be an aid to those hoping to quit smoking. There are still questions about long-term side effects; in the short term, some patients say the drug makes them nauseated. Is that just another way to speed weight loss?

49. Your Next Business Strategy

In today’s global economy, where the pace of development is brisk, you’re not going to get better, faster on your own. Innovation will come only through meaningful relationships with other companies. So posit John Hagel and John Seely Brown in Your Next Business Strategy (Harvard Business School Press, June 2005), a challenging book that seeks to jolt readers out of complacency about their company’s capabilities. Offshoring merely to find cheaper wages is too narrow a strategy. The global economy offers opportunities to build networks of relationships with like-minded firms not only to share resources but also to learn from one another. The upshot: We’ll design better products, solve problems faster, gain more control over manufacturing, and share ideas with creative people from around the world. Early adopters are Nike and the thousands of partners it uses to make athletic shoes, and Li & Fung, a Chinese supply-chain orchestrator that helps apparel designers such as Ann Taylor.

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