This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 14, 1999

Y2K Vacations

262 days until January 1, 2000

The millennium is coming! The millennium is coming! The warning is loud and clear.

Doomsayers sound the cry of the end of the earth. If we don't get slammed by a stray asteroid, at least humanity will cease to exist. Soothsayers foretell plagues, pestilence, and horrible misery all over the planet.

And, as if that weren't enough, our computers will crash! "Here comes Doomsday! Y2K! Here comes doomsday! Y2K!" You can almost hear the chants as you read these words. Everything we depend on will simply stop, producing a Great Silence heard round the world.

As computers roll over to "00," they'll think they're back at 1900. Nothing will work. Electrical power grids, aviation control, communications systems, the financial community, medical devices, and so much more—all are vulnerable to dramatic failure just after 11:59 p.m. December 31.

Even with all the preparation, there's a good chance that something, somewhere, won't work. Computer technologists are scrambling to find all the code anomalies and fix them, but risk managers are not so confident. As corporate executives hear their caution, human decisions are being considered.

There's a move afoot in the corporate world to require employees to not take vacation in December 1999 or January 2000. Companies anticipate, perhaps correctly, that they will face some serious problems during that period. Some employers are even considering 12-hour shifts, with cots for workers to sleep in company facilities. Whether you believe these policies are driven by panic or just good sense, they are happening.

Some thoughts about implications of these vacation restriction policies . . . . The tourist industry, usually the beneficiary of a nice flow of business during the year-end holidays, will suffer. All those children home from school while their parents are required to work will present significant childcare challenges. Imagine Times Square, burgeoning with a much larger than usual New Year's Eve crowd. The police will have their hands full, even without the lights going out!

Ready to live your life without computers while everything gets fixed? Try it for a day to discover how dependent you are.

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