While you can’t always be looking down at your feet in business, sometimes, short-term solutions are necessary. They can give you enough momentum and energy (and maybe even resources) to find a more permanent solution. And sometimes, they provide just enough organized chaos to shake things up in the long term.
Why is that important for business?
When we are trying to fix a problem, we often try to find a solution that we can maintain long term. This is, of course, logical. However, sometimes you need a short-term fix, and in those cases, different rules apply. We may just need to get started. While we may not be able to maintain our short-term solution in the long run, it can provide value and space to come up with a more permanent solution.
Although running a business involves seeing the big picture, sometimes, especially in crisis, it can help to look at it like AA and take one day at a time.
The key is to make sure you are making these decisions consciously. You may take on different types of work in specific circumstances, with the very clear intentions to get through the short term. But the short-term solution should be something that isn’t going to do some degree of violence to your long-term goals.
You may also want to consider the way you communicate this shift in focus, even if it is temporary. Make sure to let your people in on the secret. If they signed on because they knew your long-term plan was something they believed in, they need to understand where the short-term solution fits into that focus. You may also need to consider how you communicate this shift to clients.
As entrepreneurs, we not only have to look up at the horizon line to see out as far as we can, but we also have to periodically look down at our feet, to make sure we are not stepping into a hole. We can’t myopically keep eyes on either – we must scan both. When people are stuck in the decision-making process, you might be looking at the wrong one. For that reason, interjecting short-term solutions can be beneficial for the long-term plan. As suggested in the book Messy (http://timharford.com/books/messy/ (as featured in the podcast Hidden Brain https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain), this can be a way to inject some intentional chaos into your plans, to freshen things up and spark new thoughts.
It’s ultimately all about proportion. You want to keep the main cupcake part of your business intact, and layer on innovation as icing.
A great way to explore this is to try this thought exercise: if you had to go out and generate $x this week, how would you do it? Looking at short-term solutions engages a more scrappy, resourceful part of your brain than long-term planning does, and it can be a great way to add flexibility and agility.
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