In Leaders, Strategy

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” – Alvin Toffler

Quite often when people are inquiring about someone’s business, they’ll ask, “Are you keeping busy?” Usually the person will respond with some comment to the effect that yes, they’re very busy, things are great, or no, we’re not busy, things are bad, etc. The point being that “keeping busy” is considered a positive, as if business success is measured by busyness.

I understand what they mean, but we need to be careful about how “busy” we are. It’s fine if the organization is busy, producing lots of great quality products & services and selling them to satisfied customers – no problem. But a lot of businesses aren’t busy in that way. They’re just busy being busy – not being productive.

That’s especially true of leaders. I’ve seen people with great responsibility in organizations who never stop for a minute, never idle away time, never leave early, etc. They’re busy, and they’re looked at as successful by a lot of people. The problem is that they’re busy doing small things, tasks, little detail work that could be done by someone with much less skill and likely could just be not done altogether. None of what they’re doing is focused on the future, or change, or the vision they have for the organization.

That has to stop. If you’re a leader you need to be thinking about what your organization needs to look like in the future, what your customers will need in the future, what your people need to make those things happen, etc. You have to be thinking about the big picture, and doing it regularly. You can’t just think about strategy or big picture things for two days a year at your management retreat. People call me and ask for help with strategic planning because “it’s that time of year again”. News flash: it’s always that time of year.

Think about your business. Think about what you’re doing in it. Is it strategic? Are you taking time regularly to think about the big picture? Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have enough time. If you don’t have time to be strategic it’s because you’re spending your time doing less important things. And if you aren’t capable of clearing time to be strategic, then somebody else should be the leader.

Don’t let your organization just go wherever events take it – get busy working on your future.

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