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The Future Of Management

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The Future of Management


It was a Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I had been up long enough to pour myself a cup of coffee and head for the shower to get ready for another day at the office. Going through my normal shower and wake up ritual of holding my head under the steamy hot water, I glanced out through the shower curtain and saw the silhouette of my wife as she entered the bathroom. I said good morning and waited for a response, but heard only sobbing. An unusual and rather odd response to say the least, so I looked out from behind the curtain and saw my wife standing there crying, she muttered, "someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center." My immediate response was the typical under reaction, often triggered by my wife's highly developed emotions.

As my brain attempted to process the information that it had just been given, I vaguely recall thinking it was probably not an accident, but rather a suicide. I had no idea just how right on that gut feeling was, or to the level or extent at which it would play out that day. I went downstairs, turned on the TV and fumbled through television channels to try and catch a glimpse of what in the hell was going on and to see what CNN was reporting. The second plane had hit the second tower during the time it took me to find the right TV channel. I stood there dumbfounded as they replayed over and over again the second plane hitting Tower Two. Our nation was under attack, and like many others, I watched and listened to the horrifying stories as reported by the news and eyewitnesses for several days after. A shocked nation now had to figure out what this all meant.

The 9/11 attack had affected my family in more ways than one. First, my sister-in-law was working at the Pentagon at the time. I do not have to say that there were several excruciating hours following the Pentagon attack awaiting word from family of her safety. Second, I had a friend on the 57th floor of Tower One, who survived and recounted his tale to family and friends via e-mail two weeks later. I sat at work everyday, glued to the Internet and at night to the television as the course of events unfolded throughout the week. By September 23, 2001, I was also in the precarious position of being without a job. Our company reacted as many other companies had. 35 percent of the jobs at my company were lost.

The attack on the World Trade Center has had a profound impact on the way we think about terrorism, safety, and scenario planning as a society and as managers in corporations. The future...impossible to see or even predict, yet much of what a manager does involves events that occur in the future. Successful management may be observed as a result of both good luck and prediction. Luck was not with me during those dark hours following 9/11. In business, no one can predict the future with any great detail or certainty, however, reasonably reliable forecasts can be made using the right tools and with a little luck. Attempts to forecast accurately have become increasingly more difficult due to accelerating technological progress, faster cultural change, and competition emerging outside the traditional borders.

According to the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, the authors of The Portable MBA, " the key is to keep your options open and to know when to adjust or change course to respond to events that are different from what is anticipated" (Bruner et al, 2003). Thus flexibility and the ability to adapt are key ingredients to



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