I was in Hartebeespoort looking at a house today. Hartebeespoort is a very old settlement North-West of Johannesburg, developed around a large dam. While there are many very new high-density, high-end complexes, the house I was looking at is right next to the dam, in the old part of the town. It has beautiful old stone walls, about 2 feet thick. When walking through the house, we found a date-stone set above a door lintel – 1944. The house is over 70 years old.
As we were driving back to Johannesburg, my friend and I were discussing the age of the house, and he asked what I thought the world would be like in 300 years. Wow – no biggie for a Saturday afternoon. If I think back 300 years to 1715, the changes are unimaginable. So casting forward , I found it equally difficult to imagine.
The pessimist in me says we’ll all be cleaning up after some kind of nuclear or natural Armageddon. The optimist in me says we can choose an alternative. But what struck me most was the ridiculously short time-frames for business planning. Quarterly statistics, annual reports, at most 5-year strategies. It is truly impossible to forecast business performance to any degree of certainty in any longer timeframe. But what we can do is look at the trends in our natural, social and economic worlds, and pretty much agree that they can’t continue. So while we may not be able to say with certainty what will work, we can see with startling clarity what doesn’t.
What might business forecasting look like if we synchronised business with nature?