Monday, December 19, 2011

Time frames.

About two weeks ago I went to a symposium at the Times Center which featured economic historian Carmen Reinhart. Moderator Thomas Friedman asked Reinhart to speculate on the economy in the first six months of 2012. Reinhart took the question, slowly closed her eyes for a moment and then answered. "I am an historian. I don't work in six-month time frames. That's less than a blink of an eye. I deal in 60 or 70-year sweeps."

I've been thinking about Reinhart's statement since I heard it.

Lately at work we are creating voluminous decks on our "Facebook strategy." These are intelligent and well thought-out and the product of people who really know how Facebook is being used today. These decks show how people can connect, share and form communities on Facebook. They are the stuff are dissertations. Gems of insight, data visualization and vision.

But there's a problem.

We are looking at the future in a six-month time frame. We are assuming an orderly, predictable universe without breakthroughs, without disasters, without upsets.

Only five years ago or so it looked like Lonely Girl 15 was going to take over the world of advertising. Today, Facebook is ascendant. Ascendant though no one I personally know uses Facebook the way decks say people do.

Tomorrow, however, who knows?

Maybe Facebook will elect presidents, find spouses for the lovelorn and build potent brands that would make Steve Jobs envious.

Maybe in three-years-time, Facebook will be on life support or dead.

The point is, no one knows.

We need to look at the proper time frame.


Dave Trott said...

When Mao was asked for his opinion of the French Revolution, he said "It's too soon to say."

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