Equally important to managing perceptions is managing change. In todays marketplace, change is coming at us fast and its only getting faster. That means organizations will be facing more problems than ever before.
But to be a strategic asset to your company, you cant simply be a crisis manager you also have to become an opportunity manager. That means you devote time to creating change for yourself and for your organization from the inside-out. Changes that come from the inside-out are far more controllable, while changes that come from the outside-in are often out of your control. As such, crisis managers live in an uncontrollable world, while opportunity managers have a handle on their future.
So whats the solution? The key to becoming an opportunity manager is to have the discipline to unplug from the present at least once per week and, instead, plug into the future. Its about taking an hour to not think about the economy, the stock market, the balance sheet, the IT projects, and all the things that are part of your day to day world. Rather, its a time to plug into the future, because thats where youre going to spend the rest of your life. Its where youre going to make all your money from this moment forward and its also where you can lose everything in an instant. Since youll be living in the future, doesnt it make sense to give the future some thought every now and then?
Giving yourself one hour a week to notice opportunities and be strategic is the only way to actually drive change. And lets face it if youre not driving change then someone else is, which means the change will be coming from the outside and forcing you to focus on fire fighting. Therefore, the only way to gain control of your future and avoid the increasing number of problems is to ensure that some of the changes come from the inside-out; that both you and the organization make a change before the marketplace dictates it. An hour per week for strategic contemplation will enable you to do so. Here a few ways to ensure you will use your one hour effectively:
Mark the hour in your calendar - In order to make sure you take the time to plan, you need to put the time in your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself just as you would for any other important business meeting. If you dont put it in your calendar, youll never take time to plan. Youll be so busy putting out fires that youll never get to it. And if you think you dont have time to do this because youre too busy, then youre likely in a habitual crisis management mode.
Think about it: In the last five years, were all of the top executives and IT team at GM busy? Were the executives at Chrysler and Merrill Lynch busy? Was Wall Street busy? Yes, they were all busy, but it didnt help them. Being busy isnt the answer. Rather, being busy can get you into trouble fast. The recent recession was caused because people were too busy being crisis managers and not dealing with what was coming at them. The only way to get time back is to spend the time to stop tomorrows problems from happening.