Research has shown that, the biggest challenge CEOs and MDs will ever have, is to balance immediate priorities whilst planning for the future. The following quote from Littlefinger (Game of Thrones) captured my imagination in relation to this concept:
“All our troubles will come to an end; or life will run out. What then? Fight every battle, everywhere; always – in your mind. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend. Every series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before.”
It reminds me of those visionary CEOs and MDs who carry us along with their stories of a compelling future. And then when it arrives we are wowed by the result; whilst they aren’t surprised at all because they’ve seen it in their minds eye for so long.
Naturally, business owners will place a lot of emphasis on the day-to-day performance; paying the wages; managing cash-flow; dealing with the most challenging / difficult customers and so on. Without resourcing the company appropriately, on a regular basis, business will dry up. And yet, if your attention is always drawn to the battle at hand; you’re unlikely to move beyond a few quick wins. As a result, when the war comes you will find you are unprepared.
Since dealing with short-term issues often isn’t a choice, future planning becomes the poor relation. Time-pressing issues take precedence over long-term planning. And the implications of failing to plan are still some way off. Nevertheless, you have to build in reflection time to have these debates. That’s the easiest way to enable a flow of ideas and creative breakthroughs. And only then will you have something meaningful to execute.
On the other hand, if you only focus on the future you will never implement anything because you’ll always be planning! So it’s a balance.
In my work as a business coach I advocate keeping things simple. It’s hard to think of every eventuality when you have taken on too much; or your goals are too big and complex.
The key thing to remember is that all learning and change happens instantaneously. In addition, once it’s in the muscle you can sustain the new behaviour easily.
So, you can build in sustainable practices by making systems and procedures as simple as possible to adhere to. Also, make repetition of productive behaviours fun for employees. They are much more likely to perform to your standards when they can enjoy the process.