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2011's Challenges

Agriculture, manufacturing, high tech, executive education, and deep client consulting. 2011 is off to a start of challenging work with my clientele.

Some of the watchwords for the work include volatility, the unexpected, and hopeful improvement. Energy and the economy are two of the most crucial forecasting areas as almost every client looks ahead for the next 2-5 years.

In another few months we’ll see politics ramp up even higher as the foray’s into the Iowa caucus begin. My government clients, especially in the Federal arena, are wondering if they’ll have funding for their education projects and hiring.

In agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing eyes are on the Middle East’s unprecedented developments. The tragedy and ripple effects of a Libyan civil war dominate current thinking but the possibility of Saudi unrest is the real trump card. Some of the work being done in strategy and decision-making meetings by my clients is not just interesting - it’s engrossing and both fundamentally disturbing and profoundly philosophical.

It’s an interesting time to consult as a futurist.

Busy isn't the word

Beginning in August of this year work was frantic.

During the five month stretch that closed out the year I racked up over 50,000 miles traveling between projects and assignments in the U.S. It was gratifying but exhausting.

My executive education work with the Social Security Administration turned into working sessions with their top leadership as they move toward developing a new strategic plan. As you can imagine, the agency faces some obvious and daunting issues as the Baby Boom generation becomes customers beginning... right now!

Agriculture was prominent in the schedule. Not only did I conduct a half-dozen leadership education sessions in the grain and oilseed sectors but I continued work with the cooperative movement in ag.

One of my most interesting projects is development of a set of scenarios for a grain sector that is encountering declining acreage. Their crop is uniquely suited to their geography and I believe they are just “one breakthrough away” from a robust recovery as I put it in an address to their annual meeting. The scenario work is one of the fun aspects to the futurist field. I get to tell stories of the future and make them both entertaining and compelling. Their very good professional staff developed the kernels of the issues and I’m providing finished product.

A lot of work crowded into the schedule at the last minute. Some took me to wonderful spots to work with interesting groups. I’d done a significant number of advisory sessions with some of America’s wealthiest families over the past decade. I was called back to deliver a short session for a group in a philanthropic setting made up of multi-millionaire families. It’s fascinating to hear their perspectives given the economic and political currents flowing in our country currently.
2011 is shaping up as a challenging year. Not only will I work with my continuously growing clientele of strategic planning clients but I’ll revisit a long-time alliance with the Institute for Management Studies which is doing some of the best work I’ve observed on “leveraged learning” for executives.