Managers monitor the indirect-action environment for early warning signs of changes that will later affect their organization’s activities. For example, rather than waiting for sales to fall, an alert manager will reduce production of luxury items when he or she first spots a downwards trend in general consumer spending.
Information about the indirect-action environment comes from many sources: an industry’s grapevine, managers in other organization, the data generated by an organization’s own activities, government reports and statistics, trade journals, general financial and business publications, on-line computer data bank services, and others. Hints prediction, statistics, gossip – any of these may alert a manager to a trend that should be monitored. The manager can then order further research to clarify potential important developments. By using statistical forecasting techniques, managers can anticipate change in social, economic, political and technological variables and so prepare alternate plans of the future.
For example, businesses that want to appeal to affluent customers need to be aware of the so-called yuccas – young, upwardly mobile Cuban Americans. Unlike other ethnic groups that have sought to blend into the US culture, the yuccas switch between English and Spanish publications and media to find the best quality and remain actively involved in the mainstays of Cuban culture. Because Cuban American young people tend to live at home until they are married, yuccas can spend more on consumer goods such as clothing, cars and consumers electronics. Another up-and-coming group that will have a profound impact on change is teenagers. While society has been focused on the baby boomers, the number of teenagers has started to grow again. In 1992, the US population aged 13 to 19 inched up by 70,000 to 24.08 million ending a 15-year decline. The pace of growth is picking up as boomers’ babies grow up and new immigrants arrive. During the next decade the teen population will grow at close to twice the rate of the overall population. This puts teenagers at the leading edge of a demographic wave that will wash over American during the next two decades, transforming out cultures and economy. As teens’ spending power and influence increases, they will change the way marketers of everything from appeal to cars to soft drinks will do business in the years to come.
In recent years concerns about damaging the natural environment have taken on new importance. Many Americans now classify themselves as concerned about the environment. This increased focus on environmental issues is having a profound impact on many organizations, which must deal not only with changes required by specific laws and regulations, but with public perceptions. It has also created opportunities: Many organizations today are involved in developing new processes and new products that either do no environmental damage or clean up environmental damage that has already occurred.
Increasingly, managers are confronting a number of questions about the environment. What are the primary areas of concern? How far can (or should) organizations go in helping top protect a clean up the Earth? And who should bear the costs?
It is standard thinking believe that the environmental movement in the United States is a recent phenomenon coming from social activities in the 1960s. But this is not true. The Sierra Club, a well known activist organization, actually began in 1896 and spawned a host of groups who were concerned with the conservation of the land and natural resources. Relying on the thinking of John Muir and others, conservatives argued that we must try to curtail the negative impact of humans and human technologies on the Earth.