Suffering from Lack of Foresight

by Jason Preston on November 7, 2008

The morning news on CNN today is all about the crumbling auto industry (at least, the part of the news I watched).

With a rising unemployment rate and plummeting car sales, auto giants like GM are burning through cash so quickly that they won’t be able to operate past the end of the year.

That’s scary stuff. How did they get into this mess?

I think it’s because of the Lack of Foresight problem. Business is inherently focused on short-term interests, often to a fault. And in a group situation, it’s easy to drink the cool-aide, go along, and ignore the long-term trends.

Housing prices will go up forever. The internet will never become mainstream. Americans will always buy SUVs.

There are obvious problems with these sentences. Here they are: “forever,” “never,” and “always.”

Consumer habits are rarely stable. The technology landscape hasn’t been stable for 30 years. The only reason Microsoft is still around and doing well (very well, actually) is because Bill Gates had the guts in the late 1990’s to take the entire company on an about-face, and start taking the internet seriously.

American auto companies could have been developing something besides SUVs years ago. That run was not going to last forever.

Newspapers could have seen, as early as 2003 or before, that news consumption was moving to the internet, and they could have built up appropriate web departments and started working on systems to monetize their internet properties.

If big, lumbering Microsoft can do it, so can you.


1 m goode 11.10.08 at 3:27 pm

It’s interesting to see how much technology has changed the way we do business. If your technology is not up to date, you could quickly get left behind. Ever since I started working with Motorola, I have become very impressed by one of their latest additions to their product offering, the Krave. ( With a full touch screen keypad integrated into a clam shell design, it combines sleek design with the latest technological advancements. Definitely worth checking out.

2 Austin 11.25.08 at 2:09 pm

m goode is a viral marketing shill – should be hung by his/her nether-parts.

3 boing 11.25.08 at 3:04 pm

Hey! M Goode. You rock! I love the way you astroturf spam.

4 ZippySpincycle 11.25.08 at 4:13 pm

It’s interesting to see how much bad viral marketing has changed the way we read blogs. If your spammers are not up to date, they could quickly get mocked and derided. Ever since I started reading BoingBoing Gadgets, I have become very impressed by their intelligent skewering of transparently silly advertising schemes, as exemplified by this “m goode” doofus. Definitely worth checking out.

5 m goode 11.25.08 at 4:24 pm

I’d like to apologize for the previous comment. The krave is actually a piece of junk and I’m a pathetic viral marketing drone. This is not how I planned my life to turn out when I was young. I wanted to do something that really mattered, not this marketing sleeze! Oh god, my life is a sham.

6 Jason Preston 11.25.08 at 4:40 pm

LOL, OK, I was going to delete the first comment, but now I just have to leave it up because that’s too funny…

7 m goode 11.25.08 at 5:58 pm

O hai, I haz a krave 4 cheezburgr

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