I live in the midst of a mature 18 acres woods that is a remnant of my grandfather’s farm. Although I spent most of last weekend trying to tame a small portion of this property around my house, most of the woods remains in a natural, wild, chaotic state in which every plant, shrub, tree and vine competes for the sunlight, nutrients and water that are essential to its survival.
My woods looks nothing like a typical business plan – neat, orderly and filled with confident predictions of future success. Rather I see trees toppled or snapped in half by the 91 MPH storm that hit us in 2012 or dying erect, smitten by unseen pests or intertwined randomly with other competing vegetation. The forest floor is littered with the perished, much to the delight of little critters who live and feed upon them.
On second thought, my woods looks a lot like the business landscape that we see around us – a messy struggle for survival in the face of continuous competition and new threats.
I’m not an expert on plant DNA or how a living plant adapts (or its species evolves) to address changing conditions in order to maximize its chance to survive and thrive. I’m reasonably sure that plants don’t anticipate future events; but human beings and especially business leaders can and must.
I believe the most important capability in any business today is the ability to rapidly adapt to or anticipate trends and become the proactive initiator of disruptive change. Be the windstorm or invasive species; not its victim.
The best way that I know to proactively manage change is to manage the decisions that will create your future. You can’t do that if you don’t have something like a Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) or Top 10 Decisions List for your business to focus your attention and innovation on the most vital and volatile choices that you face.
Hopefully this food for thought can keep you from being food for others.