Confusing times…I’ve been following the economic news in the last several months and all I can say is that I am confused. Housing prices seem to be stabilizing, but consumer confidence is down. Gasoline prices have dropped, but retail sales are flat. Interest rates are at historic lows but capital spending is lackluster. US corporations have record profits and cash hordes, but unemployment remains above 8% and the stock market is essentially flat year over year. The pundits have all sorts of explanations, ranging from uncertainty surrounding the election and tax policy to the European debt/currency crisis. A major theme is that corporate leaders are sitting on their hands waiting for a clear sign of recovery before committing their dry powder. Recently, M&A activity has picked up slightly, though it is still below the levels of 2011.
All this says to me that these are what Peter Drucker called “turbulent times”. In these times, leaders face heightened degrees of uncertainty and must position their organizations either to move quickly when the fog clears, or to spread resources across multiple options, betting that some will win and others will lose. It’s important to realize in these times that standing pat is also a bet. In fact, during turbulent times, it is more important than ever to engage in strategic dialogues about what is happening in your industry, what opportunities may be emerging and which threats need to be guarded. Read the ideas of futurists like Mary O’Hara-Devereaux. She and others like Gerald Celente offer VERY BIG PICTURE views on where we are and where we are headed.