Point of Beginning

Sight Lines: Happy New Year ... Now What?

January 5, 2009
I’ve always been a voracious reader, though my tastes in reading material have changed quite a bit over the years. When I was about 10 years old, one of my favorite types of books was the “choose-your-own-ending.” If only real life were so simple.

I’ve always been a voracious reader, though my tastes in reading material have changed quite a bit over the years. When I was about 10 years old, one of my favorite types of books was the “choose-your-own-ending.” Typically science fiction or fantasy, these stories would proceed a set way to a certain point and then direct me to another section of the book based on what I thought might happen next. Needless to say, these weren’t exactly literary works of art. But the real beauty of this type of book was that if I didn’t like the ending I chose, I could simply flip back to the original intersection and select a different route … and so on, until I was happy with the story’s final conclusion.

If only real life were so simple. Depending on which forecast you believe, 2009 is either going to be one of the worst years in the history of humanity or the beginning of an economic recovery. We’re either at the beginning of an L-shaped recession that could drag on indefinitely or at the bottom of U-shaped recession-or perhaps somewhere in between, depending on the impact of President-elect Barack Obama’s massive economic recovery plan and numerous other factors.

The problem with all this speculation is that it can make strategic planning a bit difficult. If you think that infrastructure spending will create an instantaneous demand for your services beginning in early February, turn to page 45; from there, your firm might take a happy trek through increased revenues with little strategy required. Alternately, it might meet an untimely end if firms with more advanced technology and better networking capabilities win the contracts. If you think that the economic situation will continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future, turn to page 54 where you’ll trade in all your worldly possessions for gold and hide out in the hills until you’re one of a handful of people left standing. Or perhaps you think that ingenuity will be the key to success; turn to page 59 where you’ll launch a new business venture with all the inherent risks and possible rewards. The only problem is that once you choose a route, you can’t go back in time. The best you can do is continue to make modifications along the way.

It sounds a bit dreary. But I’ll take uncertain optimism over definite demise any day of the week.


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What are your predictions for 2009? Enter them below, or e-mail me at pobeditor@bnpmedia.com.