Mike Murphy

Occasionally, I have been known to be wrong. That has never stopped me from throwing around a few opinions, four-letter words, warnings, and prognostications. Before I launch the 2009 forecast, it is only fair to check in on a few of my past projections to find out how credible of a source I really might be. Here are a few:

Feb. 12, 2007:“…never again see gas pump prices below $2 per gallon.” OK, I blew that one, but does anyone really think we will see gasoline below $3/gal this summer?

Feb. 12, 2007:“2008 will see the adoption of quality installation procedures by the Energy Star program.” It didn’t happen yet, but just wait, it’s coming.

July 9, 2007:“I doubt that any of you are wishing for more regulation in your business life. However, if I were a betting man, I’d wager that there will be some mighty big changes on the horizon.” How is that for hedging my bets? Nobody can say how far off that horizon might be, so I think I’m good on this one.

Feb. 4, 2008:“Twenty years from now, the U.S. HVAC industry may very well function more like the world’s smallest continent and one of the largest islands.” This reference to Australia’s more stringent codes and regulations can’t be checked for accuracy yet. I expect to be inhaling salty air on an undisclosed sandy beach 20 years from now. Therefore, I don’t care if I’m wrong; you won’t be able to find me.

Feb. 18, 2008:“… the industry’s largest exposition in North America should not be the primary place for the copycat camera-bugs to have a field day.” Guess this really was not a prediction, but when Jan. 26, 2009, comes around at the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating Exposition in Chicago, we will find out if the expo officials start snagging cameras at the door of all but members of the press. I will report back later.

March 24, 2008:“ … today’s younger employees and nearly all of tomorrow’s will feel strongly about green buildings. They will want to work in green buildings and work for green companies because those will be the values that they hold important.” Well, here is another one that would be hard to judge whether or not it holds water. The future is uncertain, and you can never tell what those crazy young folks will do.

Overall, it appears that my forecasting is nearly indisputably solid. See, this forecasting stuff can be made fairly easy. Just don’t over-commit. Here are a few examples of how to use this fairly simple forecasting model to impress your friends at holiday parties.

Forecast #1:The U.S. economy will continue to be in a recession until three months after it has concluded. (See, you can do this!)

Forecast #2:Business will be dependent upon weather-related factors in many parts of the country. (How can you go wrong with the weather?)

Forecast #3:President-elect Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012. (This one is a bit more dicey, but you will absolutely leapfrog people who are arguing under the mistletoe about whether Hillary stays on more than two years.)


Now that you’ve got the hang of it, see if you could go with this. If you were looking back at 2009, what would you want to see? Maybe these aren’t forecasts, maybe just goals in reverse. Here is how my list would go:

• My oldest daughter stopped hitting the garage with her car.

The NEWScontinued to be the most widely read magazine in the HVAC industry.

• Industry sales remained level amid an economy that had been generally down.

• The recession lifted in September, though we didn’t find out until December.

• The green building movement resulted in increased business opportunities for contractors.

• Free energy audits performed by utility companies resulted in more HVAC replacements by contractors.

• More refrigerant was reclaimed, less was vented.

• 50,000 technicians became NATE-certified.

You will likely want to see a variety of things as you look back at 2009. Perhaps the best way to ensure that you see what you are hoping for is to set those goals in motion today.

Recently, I, not too discreetly, began posting affirmations on my daughters’ bathroom mirror. Every week, a new one goes up. They didn’t ask me to do this, but they aren’t complaining either. I believe they are curious as to what the old man is going to put up there next.

Post company goals in a conspicuous place that everyone can see them. Post-personal goals in a place that you will see them every day. Change the scenery every now and then. Come up with some new short-term goals. Keep everyone involved in the achievement process, and in the results process as well. People like to know how they are doing when working toward a goal.

When you look back at 2009, I hope that you see the world as you planned to change it.

MURPHY’S LAW:A New Year for new ideas.

Publication date:12/22/2008