We live in an age of being driven by results; in striving to achieve these we frequently face decisions about what to do next in order to achieve our goal in a timely manner.
The major problem I find is that those jobs or tasks (or people) that shout loudest to be ‘done now’ aren’t get our immediate attention but are not always the ones we need to address in order to be successful. We can spend too much time answering urgent tasks (fire-fighting) rather than drilling down to answer the underlying, important questions which not only clarify the task, but also sweep many of the so-called urgent tasks out of the way.
There seems to have been a not-so-subtle shift in working practices and strategy from longer-term planning to short term problem solving. We hear excuses like, “Everything is changing too quickly; you can’t plan long-term any more” to which I say “Total rubbish!” Our need to be seen to be ‘changing with the times’ overrides what used to be called common-sense; we don’t ask the important question, “Is this really that important?“
I was reading an article recently by Craig Sams, creator of the premium chocolate brand ‘Green & Blacks’ who asked the basic question, “Why change a brand identity when it is already recognised by a million or more customers?” His point was that in an attempt to be contemporary or seen to be changing, many companies make significant changes to their brand, whether that be in appearance, taste or the brand identity itself … and in the process they lose or confuse a loyal customer base.
There is nothing wrong with challenging where we are or what we’re doing, but we need to be very careful that in our need to keep up with the competition, we don’t lose our brand identity and customers in the process.
Many of these issues seem to arise because we have lost the ability to find space in the day to just sit and think; to explore and contemplate possibilities; to play in our mind; to create and to decide exactly what is important (and therefore, needs to be done) and what is urgent (can wait or be confined to the waste paper bin). Making those decisions is rarely easy, but if we don’t create time and space to consider them, we will never make the correct decision.