By Yoram Yahav
On December 11th, 2011, I will be moderating a panel on “The Company of the Future” at The Globes Israel Business Conference, a yearly event which attracts many businessmen from around the world. I joined forces with three notable CEOs (Erez Vigodman of Agan Makhteshim, Gil Shwed of Check Point and Dominic Barton of McKinsey). I am excited not only because of these distinguished and highly respected individuals, but also due to the subject matter of the panel.
The fact that so many people around the world are starting to talk “the language of the unknown future,” excites and encourages me tremendously. It shows that what we have been proclaiming for so long, has a strong basis. We can’t build the future based on the past anymore. That era has ceased, finished, finito…
I want to challenge your intellect with a few questions. But beforehand, I must consider that readers of this newsletter come from more than forty countries worldwide, meaning the diversity of the cultures as well as the interpretations, may be very high. So allow me to steer my questions in a more general and cross-cultural manner.
- The year is 2022. Can you describe your home, business, family, physical appearance, relationships with your spouse/partner/children? Can you describe them in clear and concise terms?
- Ask yourself honestly if the process of generating the above descriptions was simple and without a trace of thought or concern relating to issues from past events in your life?
- Now, look around yourself at your partners and colleagues, neighborhood, country, region, environment, security situation, employment, medical facilities, etc. Do the preceding affect your optimism or pessimism with regards to your earlier descriptions?
If you are having a hard time dealing with the above questions, I am welcoming you to the club! Most of us have a hard time relating to the future with a different “standard” than we relate to our past. When thinking of what the company of the future might look like, we quite naturally have a tendency to believe that our company will continue to be “as is” and in the future, it will only get better. It is a good and optimistic approach, however, it ignores current realities and the fact that only ONE “Fortune 100 Company” from 1900 (General Electric), is still active.
When contemplating on which company will survive deep into the future, we must look at the possible realities of that time. Will we use fuel or sun energy? Will we be structured in the same security/economic environment we are living in today? Will we have an abundance of food or scarcity like many claim? Since we are living in unprecedented times when it comes down to the speed of change and the levels of uncertainty, obviously, many questions like these may arise. Those companies which will consider as many scenarios as possible – in my opinion will be more ready for the future and will eventually outlast longer. The CEOs which are joining me during the panel represent companies which indeed consider the future in a different manner. To examine and study their philosophies should be helpful to all.