I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar last week hosted by UK-Israel Business that featured Lord John Browne, the former head of oil company BP. He made what I thought was a very prescient comment, that all too often the urgent always squeezes out the long term.
Lets unwrap that thought. In business, and in life generally, we generally are so busy focusing on what has to get done now –deadline items, crises, etc., that we rarely give ourselves time to focus on long-term strategy. There is no question that a crisis requires our immediate attention. But what about all the other deadlines we encounter in our lives, both those foisted upon us and those self-imposed. Are all of them really urgent? Can we do a better job of prioritizing our time?
Many of us do this unconsciously. Strategy and long-term planning is hard. It not only requires a commitment of time, but also research, thought and maybe the most challenging quality for many of us – decision making. That’s right, for many of us, it is that final point, that we will have to make a decision, and sometimes a hard one, that actually postpones our entire focus on the long-term.
One way that I try to focus on long-term and strategy is to set aside time during the course of the week where I can have that time. For me, it is usually early Sunday morning, when I can come into my office and have the solitude to review documents, research topics we need to address and even pen strategies. Sunday mornings are more than catch-up time for me, but generally, a time to think about the long-term and not only the urgent.
Lord Brown’s comments should give every business leader the impetus to find time in your busy schedule to focus on the future, and not only the present, urgent matters that affect our enterprises every day.