As I talk to business leaders – owners of small businesses, leaders of departments, etc. – one common theme emerges. It’s the power of the immediate to derail long-term strategic direction.
- Tyranny of the Urgent
- Reactive Thinking
- Tactical Overwhelm
- The Daily Grind (also useful for coffee references)
Call it what you will, it boils down to the fact that being in the weeds of day-to-day execution tends to obscure our long-term thinking. We lose sight of the goal.
In ice hockey, have you ever seen those scrums on the boards where several players are piled up, all kicking at the puck (and whacking each other’s ankles)? The focus is entirely on that little piece of ice and that rubber disk – no-one’s looking at the goal.
Ever felt that way during the week? Yeah, I thought so. Bad for the ankles, I find.
Losing sight of the forest while in the trees is a very common leadership struggle. In fact, for my friends who lead Training and Development groups in biopharma companies, one of the ways in which this is accentuated is the perception that T&D is a “servant” department – Sales and/or Marketing tosses stuff over the wall for Training to execute. No strategic alignment need get in the way of the “Need it NOW!” ;>((
As a solopreneur, I have to fight this battle all the time. I get immersed in low- or no-return activities that pop up in front of me instead of staying on track. I fail to keep my focus on the clients, partners, and opportunities that are most productive long-term. I have to remind myself constantly what really matters – and even then it’s still way too easy to lose sight of the goal.
What about you? How do you stay on track in the midst of the reactive mode that presses in on you daily? Share your tips and practices for the rest of us to learn from!
glen drummond says
Urgent generally infuses a “stop/start” mentality…stop working on what you are doing which is generally related to the longer term vision; and start working on something that usually relates to sales decline or strategic shift. Most times I have found the urgent somewhat derails or at minimum slows down the strategic implementation aligned to your vision, mission, strategy and tactics. At times we are actually expected to do both…continue with current workload while addressing the urgency. This is where if continued at long term pace leads to burnout in the role of a trainer. While it is a necessity of dealing with urgent issues in our training world, it has lasting impact on achieving the vision.
Case in point, you may have a 3 or 5 year plan to build out a fully comprehensive platform around training and career pathways but may be delayed in achieving that plan if constantly in an “urgency mode”.
Steve Woodruff says
Glen – you’ve hit that nail on the head. It’s very difficult to build the building while at the same time putting out fires…