David M Cote, the former CEO of Honeywell, says, in his book, that it is never Short Term vs Long Term. You can always balance both & a business that is able to do it, inevitably succeeds. There’s a lot of talk about Short Term – Mid Term – Long Term planning. An array of solutions from deploying brute force, putting in chasers (more manpower), adopting technology or refreshing your technology to solve for your business issues are advocated.

I remember during my MBA, without even realising, the answer to each problem statement was deploying ERP (funny that I realise how important it is). But there’s a lot more to problem solving. Just like education & wealth creation, problem solving, too, is a journey. It all depends on where you are in the journey. But you don’t really get to choose the term for which you’re seeking a solution. It effectively depends on your accountability horizon. The diagram below illustrates my take on this.


If you’re in the Lower Management, in all likelihood, you are chasing daily/weekly targets. Here, you can only optimise for the short term. At best, stretch to Mid term but that won’t really help your cause as you are measured on daily/weekly targets. Brute force is the best fit for this. Establish a process, follow it diligently & make sure you make others around you stick to the same.

If you are in the Middle Management, your accountability horizon shifts to a monthly/quarterly cycle. A couple of weeks of performance dip for a brighter quarter can help your case. You make sure you deploy brute force to sustain current levels of performance & then add in chasers (more people to support the growth/process adherence) while redesigning processes. In my view, the life of chasers cannot exceed beyond a quarter. Your next overlap comes with the long term solution to make sure a sustainable process is born. Technology comes to the fore here. A structure that can run the current scale in Auto-Pilot & then the next cycle of Brute Force/Chasers can take your KPIs beyond current levels. Making yourself & your team redundant for current levels of business is the key output metric if you want your business & your professional career to grow. This is the accountability horizon that gives you the maximum flexibility in order to plan your solution horizons. You will need to run both Short Term & Long Term programs as your personal growth depends on the same.

If you are a Senior/C-suite Manager, your accountability horizon HAS TO BE Long term. Immaculate Long Term planning will ensure all the short term results are in order. As David Cote put it, current quarter results should have been planned a year ago! You need to ensure your business stays relevant over the next 3-5 years. Indra Nooyi’s vision of Performance with Purpose to cut sugar & salt levels in the portfolio of PepsiCo products was to make sure the company made relevant products for the next decade. Here, only technology based solutions, redesigning org structures with rethinking accountabilities of functions are desired. Designing conflicting KPIs that expand the organisational web out of the current comfort zone is needed. Entire functions could be made redundant with redirected focus towards chasing untapped value.


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