Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Long & Winding Roadmap to Woodstock 50

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

How far into the future do you plan?

I wasn’t yet born when a few hundred thousand people descended on Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York in the summer of 1969. Yet despite not having experienced the 3 Days of Peace & Music myself, I can appreciate the significant impact the event has had historically on music in particular and on our culture in general. Rolling Stone magazine called it one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll.

I’m currently operating under the assumption that there will be some sort of Woodstock 50 celebration. And I realized four or five years ago that my eldest child, my daughter, would be 21 in the summer of 2019. Just in time for the 50th anniversary. I have no idea whether she’ll have interest in going. But as a father, despite the fact that I understand she’ll be an adult by that point, it’s difficult for me to imagine that “my little girl” would be trouncing around on her own at such an event.

If it works out, I think it might be fun to attend Woodstock 50. I know recreating the spirit of the 1969 original is obviously not exactly possible. I’m under no delusions. But hopefully a 2019 event will transcend the corporate marketing malaise that was Woodstock ’94 and ’99. One can only hope.

Looking ahead to Woodstock 50 got me thinking more generally about planning and road-mapping activities used in business.

On a personal level, I don’t typically look ahead 15 years as was the case when I first starting thinking about 2019. It is somewhat easy to think about Woodstock 50 though because it represents a specific point in time. And the opportunity is well defined. An equivalent business world example that comes readily to mind is all the prep work that went into Y2K. The passing of the millennium was a known, fixed point in time. And everybody knew computer clocks needed to be reset. I’m not suggesting the Y2K issue was easy to resolve. It was simplified however by the fact that the issue was well defined and the timeframe was fixed.

Most plans and roadmaps aren’t typically based on known, future points in time though. Nor are they usually as basic as deciding whether or not to attend an event like Woodstock 50 and simply convincing your kids to attend with you (although this might be easier said than done).

What does your roadmap look like? Or more precisely, what do your roadmaps look like?

If you’re NASA planning a trip to Mars, I figure your roadmaps get pretty complicated pretty fast. Different technologies and politics to consider, not to mention all those other roadmaps to consider – Astrobiology roadmaps, Solar System Exploration roadmaps, Heliophysics roadmaps, etc. The effort I imagine is decades in the making.

If you’re Google attempting to digitize the world, or another technology company facing a rapidly evolving landscape, I figure your roadmaps get pretty complicated pretty fast. Different technologies and politics to consider, not to mention the myriad of competitors nipping at your heels.

Whether you’re Boeing, or GM, or General Mills, or Home Depot, or Coca-Cola, or The Gap, or Topps, or Dreamworks, or virtually any other company, I figure your roadmaps can get pretty complicated pretty fast. The trick I suppose is reconciliation and coordination amongst your various roadmaps – strategic roadmaps, product roadmaps, technology roadmaps, marketing roadmaps, etc. Not to mention those of your suppliers. Your success will be based on your ability to manage and govern all these elements simultaneously.

Do you have the resources and tools to do this effectively?

How far into the future do you plan?

My own personal roadmap on the way to 2019 will likely take a variety of different turns. I don’t imagine though the decision to attend Woodstock 50 will be overly complicated. At the very least though, before I’m allowed to accompany my daughter (or rather tag along) to Woodstock 50, I suppose I’ll have to convince her in the next few years that her old man is cool enough (or at least simply not too embarrassing) to drive her and her friends to the mall.

1 comment:

C. Engdahl said...

Ang Lee, director of the new movie "Taking Woodstock", appeared on The Colbert Report tonight (Aug 19). When asked if he thought the spirit and freedom associated with Woodstock could be achieved again, Mr. Lee simply said "I don't know". Steven Colbert then suggested perhaps all it would need is a little more corporate sponsorship, such as the "AT&T Freedom Tent", or the "Budlight with Lime Peace Zone". "It didn't sound so groovy to me," Ang said.

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