BOOK: TRW co-founder, Northrop chairman want to help company leaders improve forecasting skills. By Muhammed El-Hasan STAFF WRITER The chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp. is collaborating with the co-founder of TRW Inc. to write a book on forecasting change, trends and the next big thing. Ramo lunches with Sugar about once a month. Those lunches led to the idea of jointly writing the book. “We each have an agenda and ? one of our things on the agenda was how to predict things,” Ramo explained. Ramo gave several examples of companies that failed to see the future, and as a result were left in the past. For example, makers of vacuum tubes – a technological precursor to semiconductors – missed the modern computer revolution, Ramo said. “Not a single company that made vacuum tubes makes semiconductors,” Ramo said. The goal of making sound predictions is “to see the opportunities and act on them,” he added. “It causes you to enhance the positive in the future and minimize the negatives.” To a great extent, Ramo’s long career and achievements have rested on his ability to predict where the defense industry was headed. Ramo led the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile program during the Cold War, perhaps his most heralded achievement. Fifty years ago this year, Ramo and fellow engineer Dean Wooldridge started the Redondo Beach company that would later become TRW. Ramo also created a company wholly owned by TRW that he named Space Technology Labs, which went on to develop Pioneer 1, the first spacecraft built by private industry. The company also made Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. Today, that Redondo Beach facility known as Space Park builds some of the world’s most advanced space systems, including satellites and missile defense systems. In addition, Ramo has written numerous books on technology and business, and a book on tennis. The working title for Ramo and Sugar’s book is The Paradox of Prediction: The Art and Science of Useful Forecasting. The word “paradox” is included in the title because “you must do it, yet it’s impossible.” “It’s obviously an art. And it’s not unscientific,” Ramo said of predicting the future. “People assume that science has to be 100 percent accurate.” Yet, when attacking a problem with objectivity and an understanding of the determining factors, “you can’t say it’s unscientific.” The book will be relevant to many fields and circumstances beyond the defense industry, Ramo said. He cited as examples medical clinics, universities, homebuilders, Little League and even symphony orchestras. “If you’re managing anything, you had better prepare for things changing,” he said. “You can’t wait for things to happen and then react.” Ramo said he expects the book to be published in about a year. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Northrop head Ronald Sugar and Simon Ramo, who is famously known as the R in TRW, have been working on the book for the past year, Ramo said Friday. The idea behind the manuscript is that companies must peer into the future in order to stay relevant. “We figure between us, we’ve got the past to look at why so many leaders have been wrong in their predictions ? and how to increase your chances of doing it well,” Ramo said during an interview at Northrop Grumman’s Redondo Beach-based Space Technology sector. Ramo said “too little” has been written on this subject. Northrop bought TRW in 2002. Ramo, 94, is semi-retired and serves as a consultant to Northrop, giving the Century City-based defense contractor advice and insight into his broad view of the industry.