Business Technology: Readers Try To Keep The Future Alive
To what indeed is our obligation to keeping the future alive? Lots of you submitted answers to C.K. Prahalad's question--I just know it was for the sheer intellectual exercise and vigor, not for the snazzy InformationWeek polo shirt I've been touting--and, as promised, it's time to pick a winner. But first, let's hear what some of you had to say:
"We've started and stopped an Oracle implementation," says John Driscoll. "One might think we blew our chance to keep the future alive by stopping the implementation of a strategically important new enterprise system to replace the outdated apps we're getting by on. But another option might be that we need to focus all our small company's resources on making our new customers happy and keeping our existing customers satisfied. We are not big enough to afford to do both. Wow, what a predicament!"
"I believe," replies Kevin Moran, "that successful business has been, and will always be, about vision. Since the world in general is constantly changing, a business must change with the world or stagnate and die. ... The world of business is becoming ever faster and more unforgiving. To ignore the need to innovate will simply lead to the slow, but sure, demise of the entire organization."
And Ilene Schuss believes that "when barriers to change are removed and people are encouraged to push for change, things really start to happen. In many cases, the ones seeing the solutions need to be brave enough to stand up and make their voices heard, even if their ideas are unpopular."
The Bush administration's efforts to cut off funds for international terrorism are destined to fail until it confronts Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have tolerated some of its wealthy citizens raising millions of dollars a year for al Qaeda, according to a new report from an influential foreign policy organization. The report from the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations [says], "It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not. For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years the Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."
The Washington Post, Oct. 17
Echoing Herodotus, Ray Gibson says, "Nothing stays the same, and if you don't want to grow, you will soon be passed by those who do. If we don't keep the future alive with realistic planning, then the alternative looks awfully grim."
Bruce Helming looks back over a quarter of a century in the IT field by saying, "As an individual with 25 years of technical experience and many years of trying to maintain currency in technical disciplines, on a personal basis, I face the same issues as a company. ... Comparing an individual to a company can present an interesting analogy and summary. Where is an individual located on the career time scale, and, similarly, where is a company in its maturity model in a given industry? Both will affect the ability to keep the future alive."
And because the memory of Enron is still all too fresh in the minds of a lot of people, I feel compelled to include this gem from Michael Leisch: "The corporate solution is to give the kids two weeks' allowance for each year they were in the family, give the parents a bonus (a week of R&R in Hawaii would be nice), file bankruptcy, and leave the stockholders (those lenders that just wrote a 103% equity loan so they could cash out of that mansion of theirs) holding the bag, and then head for the Caymans."
And the winner? John Driscoll, an IT programming supervisor from Minneapolis, whose answer above talked about the predicament of forgoing upgrades to focus on current needs. John, the shirt's on the way. To everyone who participated, thanks for taking the time to share your intriguing thoughts. For more letters on the subject, see page 106.
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