Discover that your position provides the unique perspective to balance current resource demands with future resource requirements.
- As a former CEO, I found the hardest part of the job was focus. It was my job to create a compelling vision that solidified the why or purpose. I had to balance that forward-looking strategy with the realities of execution. This ensured the big picture metrics boiled down to an efficient, operational level of who does what by when. One of the most challenging groups I ever managed was the IT organization. We had developers creating new products and we had infrastructure experts keeping everything running efficiently, securely, and with an overarching goal of stability. The constant struggle was that the infrastructure team wanted things to slow down so they could prepare for new products, external threats, new technology, et cetera. At the same time, the developers were working with product managers and external advisory boards to create products that provided a competitive edge. They wanted to go even faster and liked the idea of iterative development. And it was up to me to decide how to balance these current resource demands with future resources requirements. This was usually more a judgment call than a decision based on facts and there were two questions I'd ask myself. What are the interests of those focused on the short term? For example, market opportunities, competitive advantage, cash flow. What are the interests of those focused on the long term? R&D, infrastructure, capital investments, people development. Once I had clarity about the short and long term objectives, I approached my decision in three ways. I set realistic goals which aligned expectations with all stakeholders. Part of this meant helping people understand what needed to be A work, what needed to be B work, and when a C was acceptable. With the infrastructure team, they wanted quality and perfection and 100% up time, whereas my development team valued speed and getting a product to market to gain a competitive advantage. Make the budgeting process flexible based on goal attainment rather than a calendar year. So if we exceeded goals, we could invest money right back into key projects rather than wait. This makes speed a competitive advantage. This also means if the product development team had some quick wins, the infrastructure team would benefit with capital investments. The two teams started to see the interdependency. Lastly, place your most talented people on opportunities rather than problems. This may seem counterintuitive, but propagating judgment spreads intellectual capital throughout the organization, so the best people are afforded the opportunity to apply their best judgment in the absence of perfect information. In the end, achieving the optimal balance between current priorities and future initiatives is up to you. You control your decision-making process, so make your thought process transparent to others by articulating how you weigh and balance the pros and cons of competing priorities to best focus the overall organization.