Predicting The Future Of Your Business [Opinion]

Richard JonesI stumbled across a fascinating video a few years ago. It was from a BBC TV show from the mid 1960s and featured Arthur C. Clarke, the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and other science fiction classics. On the broadcast, he talked about the difficulty of making predictions about what the future will bring.

“Trying to predict the future is a discouraging and hazardous occupation,” Clarke said. “If a prophet’s predictions sound at all reasonable, you can be sure that in 20 or at most 50 years, the progress of science and technology will have made him seem ridiculously conservative. On the other hand, if, by some miracle, a prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so absurd, so far-fetched, that everybody would laugh him to scorn.”

Clarke then predicted that developments like the transistor and communications satellites would allow people in the year 2000 to be in instant communication at all times, “wherever we may be on Earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London. One day we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand. People will no longer commute. They will communicate.”

Pretty amazing stuff. I’m sure it sounded fantastical to a lot of people in 1964, but, of course, much of what he described is our everyday reality in 2013.

Predicting the future is exactly what we’re doing in this special 30th Anniversary Issue of Greenhouse Grower, and a lot of legwork has gone into the project in the last 12 months. Our editors used this anniversary year to take stock of where the market is in 2013 with a series of “State Of…” special reports covering numerous aspects of the business, including (among others) the supply chain, production and the head grower.

But now begins the tough part: What’s next? Where is our industry headed in the next 30 years? More importantly, where should we be headed? What steps do we need to take to ensure we get there not just in one piece, but as a thriving and profitable industry?

Our hope is that the pages that follow begin to lay some groundwork. We talked to a lot of very smart people over the last several months to develop these ideas about the future of your business. And we asked a lot of questions about the next 30 years:

  • What will the consumer customer be like and what will they want?
  • Where will we be selling our product?
  • What types of plants and flowers will be available to grow?
  • What type of facilities will you be growing in?
  • What new production and crop protection techniques and products will you have available?
  • What new technologies will develop for the greenhouse?

You’ll find our takes on all of these topics and more in this issue. Hopefully some of those opinions will challenge your expectations or at least your imagination.

Of course, it’s one thing to say, “This is where we need to go.” It’s another thing altogether to get there. Doing that often takes the courage to step away from the comfort and familiarity of the things that have worked for us in the past. In this issue, we are sharing what we believe are the best next steps, the lofty-but-realistic goals we need to set as a group to ensure floriculture continues to be a thriving, profitable business for growers and remains a valuable part of the lives of everyone around us.

We developed these ideas by seeking out the opinions not just of seasoned industry veterans, but also of the younger leaders among growers, suppliers and those allied to the industry. Their voices are the ones that will be leading all of us over the next 30 years. And they won’t just be maintaining the businesses and the industry earlier generations built. We believe they will be bringing fresh new perspectives, using tools we’ve barely begun to imagine, to help these businesses evolve to best serve the world around us and continue to support growers and their families.

Oh, one more thing about predicting the future. It’s tougher than it sounds. In that BBC video, Arthur C. Clarke should have stopped after his amazingly accurate prediction of satellite technology and cell phones. He went on to say that by the year 2000, we would solve labor problems by using our knowledge of animal psychology and genetics to bioengineer “intelligent and useful servants from the other animals on our planet, including the great apes, dolphins and whales.”

In 30 years, future Greenhouse Grower readers — hopefully many of you — may look back and smile at a couple of “helper monkey”-type ideas  that didn’t quite work out the way we expected. But that’s okay. To be successful, you have to take a few risks along the way. We hope you’re willing to join us and do the same.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...
employee-reviewing-shipping-list

February 21, 2018

Four Ways to Get Your Staff to Care About Quality

It can be a challenge to convince your employees to care as much as you do about your business and the quality of products you are providing. Here are four suggestions for making this happen.

Read More
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to Company Culture

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
CareerUp

December 27, 2017

How CareerUp Helps Young Professionals Level-Up

The mission of CareerUp is to equip young professionals with the skills to maximize their career potential.

Read More
Latest Stories
employee-reviewing-shipping-list

February 21, 2018

Four Ways to Get Your Staff to Care About Quality

It can be a challenge to convince your employees to care as much as you do about your business and the quality of products you are providing. Here are four suggestions for making this happen.

Read More
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to C…

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
CareerUp

December 27, 2017

How CareerUp Helps Young Professionals Level-Up

The mission of CareerUp is to equip young professionals with the skills to maximize their career potential.

Read More
Nathan-Nordstedt-in-the-Greenhouse-feature

December 26, 2017

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Winner Encourages Indust…

This year’s scholarship winner says young people need experiences that challenge them and allow for creativity and innovation.

Read More
GROW

December 21, 2017

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: How You Made…

To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provides you with cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice that results in greater profits in everyone’s pocket.

Read More

December 15, 2017

Your AFE Donations Will Be Matched Between Now and the …

Between now and December 1, any donations made to the American Floral Endowment will be matched up to $20,000.

Read More
HortScholars

December 8, 2017

HortScholars Program Now Accepting Applications for 201…

Do you know any college students currently in a horticulture-related program? This unique program gives them a chance to connect with industry leaders and make new connections at Cultivate.

Read More
GROW-Summit-2017-Group-Photo

December 5, 2017

GROW Summit 2017 Tackles Marketing and Business Managem…

This year’s think-tank style event brought together leaders from across the green industry to deliberate on topics such as disruptive marketing, cost accounting, and Millennials, to name a few.

Read More
Photo-with-Endless-Summer-Hydrangea

November 27, 2017

Why It’s Important to Get to Know Consumers at th…

One way to learn about consumer behavior is to get boots on the ground and engage with them.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Thanks to the 2018 GROW Sponsors

There are a number of industry organizations that help make Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative a success.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memor…

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More