What’s long term to you?
Working with remarkable businesses we’ve found a remarkable variation in responses to that question. For some the context is based around a current issue or challenge, and for others it’s pan generational legacy. Minutes to centuries.
Yet we are often hear companies (and governments) being berated for ‘short-termism’ - without really understanding why the timescales are being set as they are. To take a topical example, Tesco’s latest results highlight some pretty catastrophic changes that have affected that business. That’s as much caused by external change - changes in the market and buying habits of customers - as internal issues, and it requires urgent action and vision to put it right.
Urgent action means a short termist approach, to get fundamental change implemented swiftly, and yet with a long termist concentration on direction of travel and vision. Right now, for Tesco, the divide is probably about 3 months, next year will still look a long way off.
There’s a strong case for looking much much further than we can have answers to the questions that arise. We can’t know how the markets will look much beyond a year or two, but we can aspire to be leading them, or innovating in them, or disrupting them. We can’t know what the detailed costs or revenue streams will be or the business structure we’ll need when we are orders of magnitude bigger, or operating in new territories, but we can set out to find out.
Take the steps assuming you’ve got many to take, rather than worrying about the ground under your feet today and the long term becomes an undiscovered, and exciting, adventure that you can embrace with excitement every day. Look up, Look out, Look far.