ManagementSpeak: I would really value your input on this report.

Translation: I haven’t got a clue about this.

Thanks to Glenn Williams, our clue-full source, who gets credit by name because, “he’s retired and free from threats of retribution.”

I launched InfoWorld’s IS Survival Guide — KJR’s direct forebear — in 1996. Back then I had four goals:

1. Every column had to have something original to say, or at least an original perspective.

2. It couldn’t be dull. After all, if I put readers to sleep they wouldn’t get anything out of it. Also, friends shouldn’t bore friends to tears.

3. Speaking of getting something out of it, every column should contain useful and practical ideas readers could use as soon as they finished reading.

4. I had to last at least one year without running out of material.

Nineteen years later it’s safe to say I at least achieved goal #4. How well the IS Survival Guide/KJR achieved the other three is for you to judge. Meanwhile, goal #4 is now to make it through an even 20 without violating the first three goals too badly. After that? Let’s get through year 20 first.

Which leads to asking a favor.

Writing a weekly column like this, where the primary distribution is email, is a lot like giving a webinar. There’s no immediate feedback that lets me know how I’m doing. Except for your posted comments and emails, it’s like talking to an empty room.

That’s the favor. I’m going to write at least one more year of these weekly mumblings. I’d appreciate your taking a bit of time to let me know if you continue to find it useful. Thanks.

* * *

There’s something of a pundit-class tradition, namely, to use the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to predict what will happen during the next twelve months.

I tried this a couple of times before deciding to leave prognostication to others. Not that their forecasts were more accurate than mine. But forecasting turned out to have three unfortunate consequences:

  • It violates goal #3, because it’s a rare prediction that provides any useful guidance, even when it turns out to have been correct.
  • It expands. Every year, tracking the progress of old predictions, and adding new ones took more and more space. I could see a time when making new forecasts and tracking old ones would expand to occupy the entire calendar … sort of like the holiday shopping season.
  • It entrenches. When a forecast doesn’t play out, ego drives a pundit to solemnly declare that whatever was supposed to happen is just taking a bit longer than expected. The possibility that your friendly pundit might have simply been wrong? Unimaginable.

So no predictions for 2015.

Okay I lied. Here are three, issued with the standard KJR Warranty — if they don’t work out, gee, that is too bad.

Prediction #1: Every prediction that takes the form “In x years there will be two types of company — those that did y and those that are out of business,” will prove to be wrong.

In business, there are no panaceas and no pandemics. Good consultants are consistently annoying when it comes to their (our?) answering every question, “It depends.” It might be annoying, but it’s almost always the best answer.

Prediction #2: Every prediction that “x technology will completely replace y technology in z years” will also prove to be wrong. For heaven’s sake, some companies have mission-critical systems that rely on IMS. No matter how obsolete a technology is, the last holdout will take a devil of a long time to dump it.

Prediction #3: In 2015, somewhere in the industry press, you’ll read an article that says, “CIOs should be business people, not technology people.”

I predict this with the same confidence with which I forecast that sometime next year, unless you live in, for example, Death Valley, it will rain.

Forecasting the reappearance of the CIOs-must-be-business-people article is entirely parallel. I say “the article” because I’m pretty sure there’s just one. It appears, lasts just long enough to remind everyone of its existence, and vanishes again, only to be resurrected again when some IT pundit has a space to fill and nothing original to say.

And every time it reappears it’s just as profoundly stupid as it was in every previous incarnation.

I mean … I mean … I mean if an article appeared suggesting CFOs should be business people, not finance people; CMOs should be business people, not marketing people; or COOs should be business people, not operations people; would anyone take such utterly nonsensical false dichotomies seriously?

You won’t read that here.

Welcome to year 20 of Keep the Joint Running. Let me know whether what you do read here is useful.