Saturday, July 11, 2009

Forgetting Covey

Stephen Covey in his famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People espoused what many of us know to be a key survival technique for both individuals and societies: we do best if we BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. In fact organisations like the Lifeboat Foundation www.lifeboat.org have taken this thinking to a whole new level by suggesting our brains work better if they have clear goals.

Imagine my surprise then, at the answers I heard, when I’ve asked over 100 CEO’s (from small to medium enterprises) what they think the end of the current economic downturn, circa 2015, looks like. Few, if any, despite the billions invested by governments everywhere, could easily define what the end of downturn might look like. Their answers have been varied and many. For the most part they have one consistent theme; whatever that future might be it is not a return to what we understood was life in 2007/8. That thinking I suggest has profound implications for policy makers and strategists everywhere. It suggests that those who purport to lead need to articulate a coherent view of what the future looks like “at the end of the downturn,” and a strategy to position to obtain the greatest benefit for whatever that view might be.

Not to do so is like driving a high speed car through Shanghai blind folded. Some of course might argue that that is what the taxi drivers of that fair city do anyway and the results speak for themselves.

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