Long-term organizational planning as we once knew it no longer exists, let’s be clear. Something we once thought of as a reference, even as a dream to achieve, we can better describe today as a sense of purpose.
Today, the short-term is basically taking center stage. Not because we want to achieve financial results without taking a long-term perspective, but because the sheer speed of change and disruption means we have to analyze and plan on a permanent basis, viewing this as the best approach to managing, making strategic decisions and determining if we’re on course for the dream. Of course, exactly how we do this will vary according to the rate at which our context is evolving and our industry matures: change in a telecommunications company is not the same as change in a long-term agricultural crop business.
To plan we always have to visualize the what, where and when of what we seek, what our environment will look like and what role we’ll play in it, analyzing if we have what it takes to modify our business model in order to achieve our objectives. This implies a live planning system, one that is subject to continuous review, so that as a company we can flex to changes and not vanish into the tarmac. Indeed it is exactly the companies that used tech as a basis to adjust their business models who were first in line to apply this planning approach.
CEOs face an enormous challenge. To remain active and cutting-edge in times when changes are happening as thick and fast as they are today they need an open, questioning mind, the capacity to be inquisitive and alert to any factors that could have an impact on their long-term vision.
Adaptability, curiosity and making the choice to surround him or herself with the right people are the differentials that help a CEO stay on track. The security once provided by seniority or longevity in any given company has already ceased to exist. Now, knowledge and agile methodologies are basics, in addition to the ability to lead workgroups or seek leaders also within the company, irrespective of their rank or specialism, facilitating the best possible search for solutions or innovations.
There are people who 30 years old and there are people who are 60 years young. What prevails is attitude and leadership ability. Young or not, the CEO must learn and adapt to change. We're in a new phase of our existence, one in which we must make quantum leaps as the situation warrants.
What do I want to say? We must break our own paradigms and dare to skip one topic in favor of another, leaving our comfort zone in search of survival, while our mental infrastructure remains intact. Those who are not willing to adopt this attitude will disappear - or significantly reduce their job opportunities.
In short, as a CEO today you must constantly refine your aim, evaluate and correct your short-term, having a clear vision for what you want to achieve in the long-term. And this, in turn, is not a fixed point but a shifting goal.
Translated and adapted from the original published in Semana Economica, Voces y Opiniones, 29 March, 2020