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Making Tough Business Decisions Easier – Understand the Trends

What technology should we invest in this year? Which product or services should we be looking to enhance? What initiatives are a better use of our time and money?

How do we prioritize?

Making important decisions about how best to spend money and time can be stressful and confusing.


If you have a strategic plan it becomes much easier to make these critical ongoing decisions. In order to develop a strategic planning framework for your unique business it is important to look at internal and external factors. Identifying and analyzing these critical factors will enable you to begin to design optimal strategies that take advantage of marketplace opportunities while minimizing risks.

By understanding the changes  that are developing in your marketplace, you become less vulnerable to short term events and opinions. By positioning in alignment with the trends in your industry, in your customer’s industries, and in the world around you, you have a much better chance of being prepared to address the changing needs of your customers and prospects.


“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment. — Warren G. Bennis

There are many sources of information about future trends. As you read and listen to the people around you, you will find a lot to think about.

In “The Strategic Human Resource Leader” William Rothwell, Robert Prescott and Maria Taylor, talk about six key trends shaping the future: changing technology, increasing globalization, continuing cost containment, increasing speed to market, the growing importance of knowledge capital and the magnitude of change will shape our future.

It is always fun to read Faith Popcorn. In her offbeat book “Dictionary of the Future” authored with Adam Hanft, they cleverly coin terms that are designed to express what the world is about to become. While the book is a bit far out, the underlying truths are insightful.

Karl Albrecht in his book “Corporate Radar: Tracking the Forces That Are Shaping Your Business” has developed a formal system for collecting the strategic data that he believes everyone in business should examine. Four of the eight categories he details in the book are:

    The customer environment-demographic and psychographics about current and potential customers (wants, needs, habits, values)

    The competitor environment – motives, strengths, weaknesses, current and potential behaviors of those who compete for your customer’s resources

    The social environment- cultural patterns, values, beliefs, trends, styles, preferences, heroes and villains that form the reference for people’s behaviors

    The geophysical environment-the physical surroundings of the business, resources, population, susceptibility to natural disasters, crime, etc.

Fast Forward

Look at your business and start thinking about future trends.

Ask yourself and your team the following four questions. You will be surprised by how much information you already have that may not be baked into your current business model.

  1.     What will our industry be like in 3-5 years?
  2.     What will our customer’s world be like in 3-5 years?
  3.     What potential opportunities and risks are inherent in these trends?
  4.     How can these changes influence the products or services I offer?

If you stay on top of the trends, you will outdistance your competitors by addressing customer requirements before they do.

For every trend identify the risk and opportunities inherent in that trend for your business. Then pick the 2 or 3 most important to address strategically.

Start to align with the future by determining where there are gaps between the current skills, focus and activities in your business and future trends.

My interest is in the future because I will be spending the rest of my life there.
Charles Kettering

“Charles F. Kettering was a “screwdriver and pliers” inventor who, even today, continues to impact all aspects of our society. At his death in 1958, Kettering was a co-holder of more than 140 patents and possessed honorary doctorates from nearly 30 universities. Kettering believed strongly in the combination of hard work, ingenuity and technology to make the world a better place.”

Author: Helene Mazur

Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, an executive coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.

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