Editor’s Note

The future’s not ours to see, que sera sera

By Steve LeBeau
Thursday, November 5, 2015

In a recent visit to a manufacturing plant I asked the CEO what kind of planning he does. A five-year plan? A 10-year plan? “It’s not like that,” said Don Tomann, of Ultra Machining Company. “It’s more like we put a stake in the ground to give us direction, and we keep moving it to adjust to reality. We never really know what’s going to happen.”

That’s the dilemma of running a business or any other kind of organization: You don’t really know what’s going to happen, but you have to plan for it anyway. And so, thus given the license to prognosticate, we all become amateur seers. It used to be that humans sought clues about the future in their dreams, the entrails of sacrificed birds or the configurations of tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. Nowadays it’s much more scientific, because we can study the numbers of economic trends. The trouble with science, though, is once you get it out of the laboratory, it becomes a lot less predictable. Just ask a meteorologist.

Far be it for us to hold our tongue due to ignorance. In this issue of Minnesota Business we boldy sought ideas on trends and predictions for 2016 and beyond. This issue is filled with the best guesses of industry experts and insiders. Foreseeing the future may not be a science, but it is certainly a well-practiced art. A good way to spot trends is to keep an eye on the cutting edge of science or technology or the digitization of retail.

Another way to approach the future is to shape it with your own imagination, by creating futuristic science fiction movies and TV shows. That is the path taken by Jeffrey Morris and it explains why he is known as the Future Dude. A totally opposite approach is taken by Eva von Dassow, a professor of ancient civilations who wonders what our future would be like if we learned from history. Let’s just say if Hammurabi was elected president in 2008 instead of Barack Obama, he would not have bailed out Wall Street and we might be living in a more equitable society. A couple of wizened (and wise) business veterans, Dennis McGrath and Larry Abdo, dive into the more recent past for advice for future success.

In terms of our magazine I have a few easy predictions to make. That’s because we have enlisted four new writers who will appear each month. In this issue we introduce Sue Hawkes, whose column “Inspiring Women” stems from her work as a business coach, CEO of YESS!, and ringleader of several circles of the Women Presidents Organization. Also joining us will be the co-conspirators of Studio/E, Nate Garvis and Tom Wiese. They will co-write “Navigating Change,” tales of those who learned to brave the unknown. (How a propos!) Finally, we welcome the director of the Minnesota Cup, Melissa Kjolsing. She keeps a sharper eye than most on the myriad of startups that emerge in our state, especially those that prevail in the chase for the coveted Cup. She will author the “MN Cup Update.”

So whether you consult the I Ching or the Magic 8 Ball, I bid you a prosperous 2016 and beyond!

Steve LeBeau
Editor in chief