How to Plan for the Short Term

How to Plan for the Short Term

Being quick, nimble and reactive is the order of the day. Start by getting rid of the long-term mind-set

From Managing for the Short Term: The New Rules for Running a Business in a Day-to-Day World, by Chuck Martin © 2002 by Charles L Martin Jr. Used by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House Incorporated.

The concept of managing for the short term has traditionally suffered from a stigma when contrasted to the notion of being a long-term visionary thinker. Short term was considered bad, while long term was considered good. Long term connotes something lasting, well thought-out and perhaps even capable of leaving a legacy, while short term brings to mind shallow, reactive and even shoot-from-the-hip thinking. When employees are working as fast as they can and believe that short-term thinking means reacting to only the crisis of the day, it's understandable that a manager might question the idea of focusing on the short term.

However, the reality is that managers today have to be more oriented toward the short term to be better synchronised with their organisation's needs. In addition, that orientation allows an organisation to be better in tune with the changing needs of customers and their desire for quick gratification.

Once a manager gets over the negative perception that anything short term is inherently bad, short-term execution and long-term vision can begin to be aligned.

Beyond being demanded by the current business environment, managing for the short term can also have distinct advantages for the manager who understands how to use such methods to support the company's overall strategy:

Because it focuses on quantifiable information, managing for the short term is based not on guesswork but on reality. It is, by definition, market-influenced, as customer contacts and interactions actually can cause management to adjust if the organisation is set up to do so.

By providing incremental forward motion, it offers the opportunity to correct errors quickly before they become disasters.

By producing documented immediate results, it offers opportunities to garner support needed to implement projects on an ongoing basis.

By focusing on information flow, it provides companies with a fresh influx of ideas, constant updates, and the ability to stay abreast of and capitalise on change.

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