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Short-termism Doesn’t Work...

There’s one very good and very simple reason why short-termism (which dominates the strategy of many firms – especially in marketing/business development) doesn’t work. That is because many good things take quite a long time to happen. We get this in real life: we understand that you need the right infrastructure (broadband, rail etc links) to succeed and that these take time to build, so I’m not sure why we don’t get it in business (unless we’re a start up!).joe

Here’s an example from my own career. When I was a young newly-qualified, my firm gave me a specific job to do (sort out the  senior partner’s section)..he was just a bit too nice!! When I did that to their satisfaction and there was £60k more in the bank (that took 8 weeks), they gave me a really big task: sort out our marginal and sliding satellite office on Dartmoor. It was a total mess and needed rebuilding from top to bottom.

Six months into the job, the performance still appeared to be still sliding: the figures had continued to worsen…but I had rooted out the dissident element, we’d built a new vibe and our proposition in the local market was now clear and credible. If they had just looked at the accounts (or not trusted my reports that it was really on the mend no matter what the accounts said), they’d have closed it. They didn’t. It was ferociously hard work, but In quarter 3 we regained the ground lost in quarters 1 and 2 and from then on it was onward and upward, the best-ever profits occurred 3quarters after that and in another six months it was making more than one of our ‘main’ offices…and I was a full equity partner by then. 

Although it could be thought of as a victory for ‘big strategy’, in fact it wasn’t…Four things made this work: Trust, Time, Drive and Organisation. Because of the trust the firm put in me, I was given the time to develop the organisation to deliver the results to turn it round and I had the drive to do it. Although I had an idea of what we had to do, it wouldn’t be fair to call it grand strategy. It wasn’t. It was common sense plus organised application.

Many good things take time and often a lot of drive. Anything done in in an organised way will always beat something done in a disorganised way. Too many people don’t give things time and too many people do things in a pretty half-assed way, and short-termism encourages that. And as for trust, well if you don’t trust people to do the job you hire them for without you interfering/micromanaging them, you’ve hired the wrong people or you are the wrong person to manage them.

Just my two cents' worth...what do you think?




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