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My Prediction: Big Business vs. Power of the Individual

March 5, 2015
Leaders and managers have to constantly redefine their organizations and their businesses in order to stay ahead.

Editor's Note: In 1995, IndustryWeek asked 25 of the leading CEOs, management gurus and futurists what they saw coming for their companies, their jobs and their life between 1995 and 2020. While we are still five years away from 2020, we nevertheless are going to revisit those reflections, opinions and predictions in the coming weeks and months and see how well are they holding up. The second of the 25 trail blazers into the future (presented in alphabetical order) is: Carol Bartz.

Bartz was president, CEO, and chairman, Autodesk Inc. in 1995.

My years working in management have taught me that the "status quo" is not good enough. Leaders and managers have to constantly redefine their organizations and their businesses in order to stay ahead.

... The biggest challenge I see in the next 25 years will be managing the employer/employee relationship. That relationship has changed now that "lifetime" employment is no longer a reality. Employees may not be as committed to their employers as they have been in the past. As managers, we have to understand how to challenge, motivate, and reward a workforce with this mentality.

There is no excuse for not having the right information when it's needed."

 ... The role of companies has changed [in the last 25 years] in two ways because of technology. First, technology has allowed more information to be available now than in the past. There is no excuse for not having the right information when it's needed. And second, information is available instantaneously today, and that has changed the scope of business. That is, in the past companies have had to focus on being global. Now no firm thinks of "one market," because all markets are open via the same channels.

 ... It's very difficult to predict the next 25 years, but I see trends that could cause business to go in one of two opposite directions: We could see big business rise again, but with a new global reach. With the current trend toward consolidation -- large firms acquiring smaller, more-focused businesses -- I can easily see how we could go back to big businesses becoming dominant. The flip side of this is the explosion of another current trend -- that of cottage industries. With more information available and more individuals starting small businesses, we could see the role of big business minimized and the power of individuals increased.

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