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You must have long range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short range failures. (Charles Noble)

Sometimes though, it isn’t easy to sell long-range to managers who are more concerned with today’s numbers than next year’s. For them, next year doesn’t exist. It’s an abstraction. All that matters is what you did yesterday and what you are doing today. This is a difficult paradigm for those of us who spend more time planning than actually executing.

Ideally, as a business, program or project manager, you want to split your time and strategies between winning today’s battles and planning your overwhelming victory sometime in the future. (Maybe in 6 months. Maybe in a year. Maybe in five years. Who knows.) My point is that you can’t put all of your eggs in the “today” basket or in the “tomorrow” basket. It can’t be an 80/20 split either. It really needs to be a 50/50 (or 60/40) split one way or another.

If you spend considerably more time focusing on “today,” you will still be in the same spot a year from now – treading water – reacting to everything instead of influencing your business environment.

If you spend considerably more time focusing on “tomorrow,” then your execution suffers, nothing gets done, and you’ll never reap the rewards of all that meticulous planning you spent so much time on.

This may seem like common sense to most of you, but I can assure you that for tens of thousands of business managers in the US, the equation looks like 90/10 in favor of “today.” For these folks, “tomorrow” is something you might get to later, when you have a few minutes to breathe. This is not good.

Don’t wait until your car is completely out of gas to get a refill. Don’t wait until you have a 102 fever to call the doctor. Don’t wait until the morning of a test to study for it.

The world of business is no different.

image: Andrew Testa for the New York Times

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Overheard today:

“The maximum effective range of excuses is exactly zero meters.”

The military has a nice way of putting management lessons into simple terms.

* * *

On that note, it’s official: Since I have recently taken an exciting new position with another firm and Roby and his unit are now in Afghanistan, F360 is officially in hibernation mode until he comes back to G-Vegas next spring. No worries, F360 will continue to serve a small nucleus of select clients in the interim.

On my end, I want to thank all of the clients I had the pleasure of working with over the last few years. You guys rock, and I will miss you all. 🙂

Now, one of the cool things about Roby being in Afghanistan for many months to come, is that he is finally blogging… and judging by his first few entries, his blog is going to be classic Roby. (He’s only been in the Stan for 72 hours, but has already managed to lock himself into the latrines – which must be some kind of record.) Between Roby’s Italian accent, his candid style and his photography, this is sure to turn into a pretty good read over the next few months, not to mention a rare glimpse into what is going on in that part of the world. Bookmark his blog, check it out from time to time, and drop him an email when you get a chance. I am sure he’ll appreciate it.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 😉

Image: Roby’s first patrol in Kabul – from his first war gallery.

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