Management Strategy: Management Strategy for the Future

Is it really possible for leaders to develop a management strategy capable of dealing with an unpredictable future? This month Conor Kenny, our hotel management columnist from Conor Kenny and Associates, casts his expert eye over management strategies for the future.

Groucho Marx and Crystal Balls

It may sound like something Groucho Marx might say but it was Nobel prize-winner, Niels Bohr who said “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Our reality is that crystal ball gazing confirms that we continue to have a striking inability to forecast the future. Look at the current economic climate: who would have thought that our precious piggybanks were unsafe? Who would have predicted a Conservative-LibDem coalition?

The future is not some fixed arrival point that waits patiently for us. The only real moment is the present. The important question is what do we have to do today for an unpredictable tomorrow?

Where Am I Going?

If we don’t know the future, what’s the point of having a vision and a strategy?

It depends on how you see vision in the first place. If you see vision as some final resting place full of sunshine and beached beautiful creatures you may just be on the wrong track. On the other hand, if you see vision as statement of the purpose, vision, values, skill and creativity of an organisation and a constant stretch to be more efficient then you will see vision as a journey and not a destination.
What is needed is a healthy balance between the present and the vision.

Don’t Look Back To Go Forward

Looking back (analysis) won’t tell you or take you to the future. It’s like trying to remember a good dream in the hope that you will have it again tonight. Analysis looks back, vision looks forward. You don’t solve problems by analysing them although you may understand them.

You don’t get to the future by analysing why your car has broken down even if it feels like you might fix it and get going again. No, you simply won’t motivate people into the future by reminding them of the current reality.

The appetite for change, for the future will not come from constantly harping on about “the good old days” or worse still “the current climate”. Change to a better place will come through leadership.

The Challenge

Therefore, our task is to build a flexible arsenal of essential skills and capabilities, a rapid reaction force, ready to meet whatever the future throws at us in the acute realisation that there is always a bullet out there with our name on it.

Focusing on what we can be has also a more subtle benefit. It lifts our eyes beyond the horizon and away from the multitude of grinding day-to-day problems. If a strategic discussion begins (and usually ends) with present reality, all we get is a cocktail of disagreement which degenerates into blame-laying. Looking beyond the present to the kind of organisation we would like to be, is, when well led, an optimistic and cheerful exercise.

But, without the vision and the shared drive to win, there is no reason for us to suffer the work involved in developing strategy. If we are not clear about where we’re going, there’s no need to advertise the fact. Everybody notices soon enough.

The Future

We do not create our own future even if we think we control it. We don’t know the future even if we plan for it. Storms and hurricanes come and go and even diligent weathermen are caught off guard.

Clever management is not about predicting the future and getting it right. No, clever management is all about building a sturdy, steely shelter, equipping it well and having somewhere to hide when the rain comes. When the sun returns, you can get on with the job of harvesting the fields and planting for the future.

By Conor Kenny

About Conor Kenny and Associates: Conor Kenny and Associates are experts in sales, marketing, sales training and people development. They help you to get the most out of your people and your business. As skilled marketing consultants and experienced experts in innovation, sales, marketing and communications, they know that you and your people have skills too. Companies don’t innovate. People do.
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