The Short-Term-itis Plague


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It is prevalent in our lives everywhere. It affects our thinking, our prioritization, our decision making, our lives, and our future. It exists everywhere – in politics, in business, in our personal life. It is preventing us from planning for and creating and developing a powerful, productive future. And, it gets in the way of our ability to solve and correct problem and resolve real issues. What is “it”?

Short-term-it isan affliction of the mind and the spirit that reactively makes decisions to a narrow view or timeline to simply fix a problem or influence an outcome, without any measure of the impact, perspective or investment for the long-term future or long-range view.

Where do we see it?

In business: Leaders managing to the quarterly forecasts to appease investors and analysts instead of managing and making decisions that will position their business for the strength of a long-term strategy and outcome.

In politics: Political leaders making decisions to quickly react to solving an immediate problem (can you say TARP?) without any consideration for its impact on the entire citizenry or the implications over the long-term politically and economically and socially.

In our personal lives: Quick fix diets, make money fast shortcuts, and lavish spending habits beyond our means (not anymore – that goose got killed).

What are the cures?

Collaboration: Our society has become polarized. There are too many factions, functions, and ideologies that are not solving problems — only reacting to them. You cannot solve any problem without making a commitment to discovering a solution that addresses the cause of the problem not merely its quick fix remedy. In a truly collaborative process there are no rights and wrongs, there are only common goals and a commitment to outcomes—a solution to a problem, challenge, or issue. Until we learn to collaborate to create solutions, mere fixes will only create band-aids not solutions.

Communication: Effective communication is much, much more than one’s ability to articulate in words their perspectives, beliefs, opinions and views on something. In fact, vocal eloquence is a very small part of communication. If everyone is talking, no one is listening. If everyone is right, nobody’s wrong. Communication requires the ability to listen as earnestly to as many diverse perspectives as possible to effectively define and understand both the issue and the opportunity. Until we learn to communicate – listen to wide ranging views – we will continue to be exposed to the “I am right” mentality. The solutions that come from this mindset are both very short-sighted and narrow.

Discipline: Effective change and improvement in anything requires an investment in time and resources. Making reactive decisions that foster more reactive decisions represents a complete lack of strategic and intellectual discipline. Designing, implementing, and creating impactful, lasting change and improvement requires the discipline to stay on an intended course while making subtle, necessary course corrections as more information is shared. Continuous, reactive course changes are not based on knowledge, they are disruptive and opinion based – which is no way to live your life, run a business or lead a country. Put some discipline into the process.

Focus: Though a great deal can be accomplished in 100 days, the focus cannot be only the 100 days; but, on the long range goal and mission. It is can be very challenging to effectively sustain focus on anything that is two, three or four years out; however, most successful and sustainable outcomes require a long-term view not an Attention Deficit Disorder mindset. Focus your team, your family, your business, and your leaders on daily accomplishment to a long-range outcome and good things will happen consistently; more importantly it will be repeatable and sustainable. Focus facilitates the potential to accept and embrace the potential of the long-term strategy and takes the pressure off those that want to embrace the I-want-it-now mindset.

Short-term-itis is a very destructive affliction in our society. Awareness of the issue and a commitment to getting it under control with better communication, collaboration, discipline and focus will help us more effectively deal with the issues that each of face in various aspects of our personal and professional lives.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Cooke
I leverage my 25 years experience in sales and marketing to create and implement strategic initiatives and develop educational programs that increase both revenues and profits. I take great pride in my experience in turbulent, chaotic, and transitional work environments. It is from these experiences that I have developed my commitment to collaborative teams, strong internal and external relationships, effective communication, decisive leadership, and a cohesive, collaborative strategy as keys to sustainable revenue growth.


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