The future will not just happen if one wishes hard enough.
The future requires decisions – now. It imposes risk – now. It requires action – now. It demands allocation of resources, and above all, of human resources – now. It requires work – now.
The idea of long-range planning – and much of its reality – rests on a number of misunderstandings. The long range is largely made by short-run decisions. Unless the long range is built into, and based on, short-range plans and decisions, the most elaborate long-range plan will be an exercise in futility. And conversely, unless the short-range plans – that is, the decisions on the here and now – are integrated into one unified plan of action, they will be expedient, guess, and misdirection. “Short range” and “long range” are not determined by any given time span. A decision is not short range because it takes only a few months to carry it out. What matters is the time span over which it is effective. Long-range planning should prevent managers from uncritically extending present trends into the future, from assuming that today’s products, services, markets, and technologies will be the products, services, markets, and technologies of tomorrow, and, above all, from dedicating their resources and energies to the defense of yesterday. Everything that is “planned” becomes immediate work and commitment.
ACTION POINT: Focus your long-range planning on decisions based on such questions as these: “Which of our present businesses should we abandon? Which should we play down? Which should we push and supply new resources to?”
How to Abandon
Abandonment must be practiced systematically.
To abandon what?” and “To abandon how?” have to be practices systematically. Otherwise they will always be “postponed,” for they are never “popular” policies.
In one fairly big company offering outsourcing services in most developed countries, the first Monday of every month is set aside for an abandonment meeting at every management level from top management to the supervisors in each area. Each of these sessions examines one part of the business – one of the services one Monday, one of the regions in which the company does business a month later, the way this or that service is organized the Monday morning of the third month, and so on. Within the year, the company this way examines itself completely, including its personnel policies, for instance. In the course of a year, three to four major decisions are likely to be made on the “what” of the company’s services and perhaps twice as many decisions to change the “how.” But also each year, three to five ideas for new things to do come out of these sessions. These decisions to change anything – whether to abandon something, whether to abandon the way something is being done, or whether to do something new – are reported each month to all members of management. And twice a year all management levels report on what has actually happened as a result of their sessions, what action has been taken and with what results.
ACTION POINT: Implement a process of systematic abandonment, such as setting aside the first Monday of every month for an abandonment meeting.
“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.”
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
“I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.”
“Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are — a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.”
“No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity.”
“When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”
“Bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos.”
“You know what’s truly weird about any financial crisis? We made it up. Currency, money, finance, they’re all social inventions. When the sun comes up in the morning it’s shining on the same physical landscape, all the atoms are in place.”
“You can’t tax business. Business doesn’t pay taxes. It collects taxes.”
“The best way to boost the economy is to redistribute wealth downward, as poorer people tend to spend a higher proportion of their income.”
“In the fashion industry, everything goes retro except the prices.”
“Disease is the biggest money maker in our economy.”
John H. Tobe
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
“The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
“Cheap booze is a false economy.”
“Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste.”
“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade…”
“On a grander scale, when a society segregates itself, the consequences affect the economy, the emotions, and the ecology. That’s one reason why it’s easy for pro-lifers to eat factory-raised animals that disrespect everything sacred about creation. And that is why it’s easy for rabid environmentalists to hate chainsaws even though they snuggle into a mattress supported by a black walnut bedstead.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever referred to any girl I dated as my girlfriend. I think that would freak me out. Even the girl that I dated for two years in college I don’t think I ever referred to her as my girlfriend.”
“How would you introduce her?” I asked.
“I’m just going to say her name,” he said.”
“Libraries are the future of reading. When the economy is down, we need to make it easier for people to buy and read books for free, not harder. It is stupid to sacrifice tomorrow’s book buyers for today’s dollars, especially when it’s obvious that the source in question doesn’t have any more dollars to give you.”