Sunday, May 17, 2015
Short-term versus Long-Term Strategic Thinking
A great portion of our day is engaged in crisis management where new problems arise and we must deal with them immediately before the they spread. This process can be effective in the short run but can damage the company in the long-term when the root of the problem is not addressed. The crisis situations will continue to spread and grow as the underlying issues spread.
A strategy should focus on limiting the damage caused by crisis problems while ensuring the root problem is still being addressed. Executives who think short-term will see immediate results but will often damage long-term organizational performance. Jumping from fire to fire is a reactive strategy.
Long-term thinking can save the company money in the future by increasing competitiveness. When the company doesn’t have the ability to implement a long-term strategy, plenty of resources are wasted on counter-productive activities.
For example, a business many continue facing shut-downs due to dilapidated infrastructure. The production line breaks down frequently and requires heavy maintenance to keep going. It has a poor design and raises per product cost leaving a company slowly but surely less competitive by the year.
A long-term thinking will assess the long-term goals of the company and the strategy to get there to determine how to handle this problem. Instead of hiring new maintenance workers and dumping more money into a poor system the long-term thinker invests in a cutting-edge system that affords more adaptability to the production system.
Short-term and long-term strategy can work together. Short-term strategies can fix or minimize immediate problems through proper crisis management but will not ignore the needs of deeper problems. Short-term goals can build into long-term goals that lead to a stronger competitive stance.
Executives should ensure that short-term solutions do not supplant the long-term needs of the company. Even though solving immediate problems is attractive, it is the resolution of long-term issues that separates the exceptional executives from the rest of the herd. Developing a stronger strategy helps to reduce the frequency of short-term distractions by fixing fundamental competitive problems.