It is no uncommon situation for business owners, leaders and managers. The one where you have to both look at the very short term tasks such as paying our amazing employees on time, writing up reports, delivering as promised and paying your bills, whilst also looking into the future of where you want to be as a company and how we will get there.
This was an easier task when the company had no employees, no clients, and no income. With activity comes responsibility, and most things are more rushed. The long term view is in many ways much more comfortable to wrestle with, as one is not immediately pinned by it. All leaders will find themselves in the cloud of short-termism, and the good ones presumably find a way through it.
Founders, especially, need help in remembering, testing, and adjusting the long term view. Good helpers are the board, co-founders, investors, friends and mentors. And sometimes you get the chance to discuss your company’s place in the world, your goal and the path you are walking down to get there with truly inspirational people from outside of the business. This forces perspective on you – as other people have much more interest in what you are in business for, not what your daily challenges are.
Whilst writing this I am in Stavanger, Norway. A modern city fuelled by oil, adapting through booms and busts a way only a small and agile city can. I am here for my second SIKT conference, hosted by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. This year’s topic is change, which is felt by several industries, countries and people in all parts of the world.
I have spent the last year travelling to Pacific islands who experience increase in sea level and intensity of cyclones; to West Africa where the Sahara is pushing from one end and the ocean is eroding fertile land on the other; to Southeast Asia where the human-nature conflicts will have to be solved in a way that balances local needs with international pressures; and finally to the U.S. and my adopted home country United Kingdom, where change is very much happening in political and social life. Adapting to change is one of the greatest success stories of our species, though it always comes at a cost.
At #SIKT2018 I will get the chance to be challenged by people who know things I do not know, who hold opinions I do not subscribe to, and who profess solutions I do not think will work. And I will more than likely find quite a few who agree with my viewpoints. The recent and wonderful words by the author Howard Jacobson will be kept in mind:
Words are not true because we agree with them. Those with whom we don’t agree are not our enemies. The world needn’t end for others because it’s not giving us what we want. Don’t expect to be happier than is reasonable. Ignore the snake. The apple will drop when it’s ready. In the meantime, smell the flowers and try not to argue with their scent.
If I succeed at the above I may learn something. I think I know what it takes to provide technology and insight for lasting change and continuous adaptation for our clients, and I work on it with colleagues who share the same belief. However, others have a different approach and they may very well be onto something.
Here’s to two days of inspirational conversation, and perhaps I will return a changed man…