Do You Have What You Really Need for the Long Haul?

by Emily Jasper on April 22, 2010

“We don’t have what we need anymore because of changes made years ago. For example, an auto insurance company now has to relocate auto mechanics to various states because many of those states have taken away vocational/technical education programs. The insurance company is now responsible for providing members with certified service locations, except those locations just don’t have the same pool of talent to hire from. So they relocate mechanics. It’s changed the business.”

Pardon me for a fuzzy memory, but I can’t quite remember where I heard or read this story. I just remember thinking: Wow…talk about lack of long-term-planning. Except who’s at fault?

In reading Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch, one story included the idea of switching from short-termism to long-term thinking. Apparently, we have a lot of barriers to keep us from focusing too far into the future. In the book example, companies that have to report to stockholders do quarterly estimates…meaning that they can really only focus quarter to quarter.

I admit for myself that I really don’t think long-term at all. My journey to get into graduate school was a nine-month process, and I’m not sure how I actually managed that. If you break down a big goal or a vision to the future into smaller pieces that are easier to accomplish, it does become more manageable.

But what if you can’t even consider what people are going to change around you?

The insurance company probably had some idea that limiting VoTech programs would have an impact on future talent, but did that mean they knew 10 years ago they’d be relocating mechanics across the country? Probably not. And if they did, would it have made more sense to sponsor VoTech programs to begin with?

I’ve probably said it a number of times, but companies need to see the play. It’s like chess: being able to calculate the end of the game based on an early move. Many of us just can’t do that.

In the next few months, I’m going to challenge myself to start thinking about plans for the long term, not just the short. I may not need to worry about auto mechanics, but if I want to take over the world someday, I should make sure I get the skills I need.

I challenge you to do the same thing:

Think Long-Termism!

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