What to do when you are coming from behind…
Here is a problem.
You are driving along when you come to a bridge that is one kilometer long. Your goal here is to average 60 kilometers per hour. Your average speed is 30 kilometers per hour at the half- kilometer mark. How fast do you have to go over the remaining half-kilometer to achieve your goal?
The most common answer is “90 kilometers per hour.” If you have a strong science background you will recognize the task’s impossibility. After all, to average 60 kilometers per hour you have to cross the bridge in one minute and you’ve already burned that minute crossing the first half kilometer.
So what is the point here?
Using the bridge as a metaphor for your achieving your forecast, the point is that if you start a year too slowly, at some point it becomes impossible to hit a forecast.
In the current environment many companies are encountering this more frequently, and leaders often take short-term actions to try and recover, however these actions can seriously impact the business in the long-term
Here are three key tips to keep in mind when you are in this situation:
1. Make sure short-term actions to improve profits don’t impair long-term capacity to grow – don’t let yourself be dictated to by short-term issues to the exclusion of the long-term. It may be easier, but it will come back to bite.
2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – when you coming from behind there is often the desire to focus on the “one big thing” to bridge the gap. We are frequently over-optimistic in our ability to achieve and deliver. This can mean that if we try for the “one big thing” and we fail, with no plan B in place, then we are then faced with an even bigger gap to overcome in a shorter time. Focus on a few key priorities which complement each other, but also provide resilience if some of them is not achieved
3. Do more with less – in this situation necessity is the mother of invention. What can you leverage and utilise to gain strategic advantage and benefits that significantly outweigh the costs, time or resources involved? Implement a process of continuous innovation, “lean” or “agile” thinking and systems. If you can improve things then systemize them and lock-in the benefits for the future, if you fail then look at how you can learn from this and incorporate the lessons into future efforts.
Following these tips won’t help you cross the bridge at the desired average speed, but they will help make sure you are can cross the next bridge you encounter.
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