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Stop struggling!

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 24 Q1 2012

Where there's a will there's a rarity, in the cautious world of future-gazing.

Stop struggling!

Drinking water in Milpitas, California was cloudy for a time during December 2012, but, as the advance notice from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission put it, "The water change will only be aesthetic". And so, we hope, it was. The Office of Emergency Services in Milpitas, meanwhile, is starting -

Huh? Wha?

Oh. Yes. Right, sorry. Peek Ahead . Writing it now.

Press release. Popping up in the inbox just as we were about start peeking. From a company based in Milpitas and London. Milpitas? Somebody said Cisco Systems, somebody said San Jose, and we were away.

Funny, how easy it is to slip an unfamiliar place name into a search engine, and just drift -

No. We're right on it. Peek Ahead . Writing it now.

The press release was one of those helpful ones. Q & A both in the subject line. Hardly even have to open it.

Except in this case …

Question. "Is 2012 the Year of Social Business?"

And right there was …

Answer. "Possibly!"

Possibly?

Now, isn't that great?

At this time of year, we're pretty much on a mono-diet of peas - predictable, probable predictions. This prominent individual (high-res pic attached) thinks the European Union could fall apart. That public-relations agency wants us to meet the client (high-res pics available) with the strong (but déjà vu -inducing) views on China's economy. Did we mention the high-res pic? You get the idea.

Nobody quite says that anything "will" happen. Everything "may" happen or "could" happen, and it's almost always something that's already happened or started happening. Data could clog the pipes, there may be an even flashier crash, and the 2012 legislative agenda could have a less-than-optimal impact on the industry.

And there are no surprises.

The flaw is that they're all "probablies" grappling with a morbid fear of going on record as "certainlies". But just think: if we could just notch it down to "possibly", and lose the fear, we could start coming up with fresher, more original, and - this matters - more thought-provoking ideas. Because the probablies are all just extrapolations from this year - the Eurozone, China, up, down, data, crash, yada, priced in already, yada, yada - while the real game-changers are the weird ones you can't foresee.

"Probably" is a straight-line extrapolation; "possibly" has volatility. "Possibly" is liberating while "probably" doesn't spring you out of this year's thinking.

So let's hear it for David Lavenda, resident of Milpitas and London and Vice President of a consultancy called, er, harmon.ie. Little. Pronounced "harmony", says the press release, but spelt, yes, that's right, harmon.ie. With the dot. Online at - yes, it does work. [Should we rebrand as Peekah.ed? Possibly!] Mr Lavenda predicts that, in 2012, in the context of Social Business (the whole social networking, connecting, engaging thing), "companies will struggle to revolutionize the way they do business".

His word is "will". In an email - see above - with "Possibly!" in the subject line.

Mr Lavenda is talking about all the, y'know, Twitter, Facebook, CRM, people power, blogging, ads that go viral on Youtube, apps, wahoonies and whatever. And what he's saying is not that you - we - will have difficulty revolutionising, but that revolutionising is what we - you - will be trying - struggling - to do. When in fact we should just relax and go with the flow*.

Neat, huh? Social Business is "possibly" the big thing this year, but the definitive statement is that we "will" be struggling with it. Go online. Stick it in a search engine. Count the events, seminars, et cetera. And this is only February.

Will things happen this year? Probably!

Will we handle them well? Possibly!

*There's more to it than that, of course, and you too might be interested to visit http://harmon.ie .