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"FUTURE PERFECT" BY STAN DAVIS PUBLISHED BY ADDISON WESLEY, 1 JACOB WAY, READING, MASS. 01867; 617-944-3700 $24 HARDCOVER
READY FOR THE FUTURE yet? With the year 2000 approaching and the coming of the new millennium, expect to see more and more books on futurology. When Stan Davis' first version of "Future Perfect" was published 10 years ago, Tom Peters-now a one-man industry himself-touted it as "the book of the decade." Business leaders aside from Mr. Peters were impressed by Mr. Davis' prescience and were inspired by his advice for a rapidly changing economy. Even if few risk managers at the time took notice, the book, which illuminated a revolutionary path to success, was an instant classic.
In an updated, 10th anniversary edition of "Future Perfect," Mr. Davis addresses a new generation of business leaders and risk managers who are weary of the parade of buzzwords that make headlines and fade before the ink is dry. Instead, Mr. Davis pursues a radically different course. He applies timeless, universal dimensions to the economy, using "time," "space" and "mass" to keep businesses competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.
Ten years later, sporting a new introduction and notes, the fundamental concepts of "Future Perfect" have taken root. Further, its once-quirky phrases have entered the mainstream business lexicon.
Mr. Davis is a former Harvard Business School instructor who now consults with major corporations about strategy, management and organization.
The book is not, nor does it intend to be, a practical risk management guidebook. Risk managers won't find anything in here that lets them knock 10% off their next renewal premium. To many risk practitioners, "Future Perfect" may seem abstract and ethereal.
Sparkling creativity with a new frame of reference, however, "Future Perfect" helps risk managers shift their thinking in radical ways. Mr. Davis explains, for example:
How companies can learn to view impediments as resources.
How added value increasingly will flow from what Mr. Davis calls "no matter" intangibles. Mr. Davis sees the economy shifting from creating tangible products-food, cars, houses-to intangible products-investments-and services, such as personal shoppers, health, education.
Why organizations must merge the economic rules of the marketplace with the social, psychological and political rules of the workplace.
How to customize the mass market. When Mr. Davis coined the phrase "mass customization," few managers understood it. Today, the concept sweeps the globe as companies reinvent themselves in this model.
For some risk managers, this may seem too nebulous, and to them the author may seem to have both feet planted firmly in the clouds.
Nevertheless, Mr. Davis is able to link abstract truths to contemporary business applications. He details the challenges many companies face. He offers concrete examples to illustrate his points: how Federal Express Corp. manages time, space and "no matter" the same way that it manages people, technology and capital. He traces how Fuji eclipsed Kodak in a highly competitive market by viewing no-matter as a resource. He illustrates how businesses fail because they confuse economic reality with psychic mentality.
To thrive in today's emerging economy, Stan Davis challenges risk managers-and all readers-to learn to manage the consequences of events that have not yet occurred, what he calls "managing in the future perfect tense." Sounds like an apt definition of risk management. Aspiring to teach readers to use the fundamental dimensions of time, space and no-matter as resources rather than roadblocks, "Future Perfect" offers provocative strategies and models, just on the cusp of the new millennium.
For insurance professionals rooted in the present tense who are seeking a practical guidebook they can put to use in the office starting Monday morning, "Future Perfect" is not their book. For risk managers seeking a "macro" view of business trends and wanting to expand their horizons, however, "Future Perfect" is a worthwhile investment of time.