Work

Perverse Zen

Sensible companies plan for poor outcomes, great companies plan not just for bad outcomes but for good ones as well. They look at a range of situations that might occur and create some kind of strategy that will guide the reaction should that situation actually occur.

Most companies however exist in a state of perverted Zen where they are so in the moment they literally cannot see a second into the past or the future. If things are going badly then things are terrible, spending is slashed, projects cancelled and all decisions delayed. If things are going well then things are terrific, projects are approved without any sense of due dilligence, money is spent liberally as there is plenty coming in and the current good times are entirely due to the wisdom and good governance of the current management.

The trouble with this Perverse Zen is that it is entirely reactionary and it makes the whole company vunerable to the whims of whatever mood is currently blowing through the organisation. Good companies I have worked for have always had a range of responses to the future. They also went through the effort of identifying what must be done regardless of what happens to economy, to their customers or indeed to the structure of their business.

These priorities then inform what the response to a given situation will be. When times get bad cutting effort to zero is often counter-productive, you want to match effort to your capability to spend. Similarly when times are good it helps to already have a plan as to how to spend sensibly; bringing about the largest and most immediate benefit to the organisation.

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