Sunday, July 1, 2007

How many Squares?

How many squares to you see?

Do you see 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, or more? The answer is 46. This is all about vision. Not in terms of eyesight, but in terms of the future. In 1858 there we only 4 cities with a population over one million people, in 1960 there were 141 and in 1980 there were 282. In 600 BC the top speed was 8 MPH (camel) in 1960 it was over 4,000 MPH. One last statistic; in the 1500’s it would take 100 years to produce 100,000 new manuscripts. Today we produce more than 1,000 per day.

The rate of change in today’s business is staggering. The amount of time available for corrections is diminishing rapidly. Managers cannot rely on their intelligence alone to make adjustment. Things are just changing too fast. Change has to be an instinct. Decisions have to be made considering only the nuance of the problem not the core issue.

Think of it this way: You and your family are sitting in Time Square. You decide it would be great to eat at Castagnola's at Fisherman's Wharf. Now there are several approaches you can take. Option One everyone jumps in the car and you head west. At every intersection you make a decision to go left, right or straight ahead, you don’t know how long it will take, you just wing it. Option Two, you determine how far it is, when you want eat, mode of transportation available, cost of transportation, amount of money available and you make a plan. Option One requires you to evaluate all the alternatives at each intersection. That’s fine if you can stop and think each time. What happens if the light is green and the person behind you is a little impatient? With Option Two you only have to evaluate changes in expectations. The decisions concerning direction are taken care of. You can concentrate on fine-tuning your results because you have a vision of the future. You have some idea of what should happen next.

Companies have to reinvent themselves every 3 to 4 years. This rate of change is going to accelerate. If you as a manager must stop and evaluate all the alternatives before you can make a decision, you’re going to get run over. The foundation of a Strategic Plan is a clear vision of where you want to go. Without this foundation your plan will crumble under the weight of change. The stress of trying to understand and react to every change in your business environment could not only cause you to lose your company, it could cost you your family and maybe your life. Take the time up front to understand what you want your future to look like and then make it happen.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion – Jack Welsh

No comments: