For a long time, longer than anyone in the newspaper business has been alive in fact, print journalism has been intertwined with these economics. The expense of printing created an environment where Wal-Mart was willing to subsidize the Baghdad bureau. This wasn’t because of any deep link between advertising and reporting, nor was it about any real desire on the part of Wal-Mart to have their marketing budget go to international correspondents. It was just an accident. Advertisers had little choice other than to have their money used that way, since they didn’t really have any other vehicle for display ads.
Managers who can expand their imaginations to see a wider range of possible futures will be much better positioned to take advantage of the unexpected opportunities that will come along. And managers today have something those defense leaders did not have — scenario planning. Unfortunately, too few companies use it. If only General Motors in the seventies had explored more fully the consequences of OPEC, the yuppie generation, globalization, environmentalism, and the importance of quality and speed in manufacturing; or IBM and Digital Equipment Corporation in the eighties, the full impact of the personal computer, which prompted the breakdown of the vertically integrated mainframe business and a shift toward distributed computing. Other examples abound: Federal Express’s fiascos in Europe, Philips’s setback in electronic markets (despite its leading-edge technologies), Disney’s union and image problems with its theme park in France, Sony in movies, etc.