Recommended read for all leadership and management. In his beginning, this professor makes me feel I am back in school! 🙂 However, I will take issue with his limiting remark that only those in engineering and physics will immediately know that the task is impossible — excuse me … you forgot there are lots of accountants and math experts and …….. who will all also immediately recognize they have hit the wall. However, this is just an aside — the article content and points are of paramount importance and that is the focus.
Excerpt: Harvard Business School Professor (and former IBM and Kodak executive) Willy Shih poses an intriguing question:
“Let’s say your goal is to average 60 miles per hour in a journey across a one-mile bridge,” he said. “Your average speed is 30 miles per hour at the half-mile mark. How fast do you have to go over the remaining half-mile to achieve your goal?”
The most common answer is “90 miles per hour.” But those with backgrounds in engineering and physics immediately recognized the task’s impossibility. After all, to average 60 miles per hour you have to cross the bridge in one minute and you’ve already burned that minute crossing the first half mile.
Willy’s point? If you start a year too slowly, at some point it becomes impossible to hit a forecast.
It’s a scary moment when a company realizes that the goals it has set for a quarter or a year are simply not attainable. And yet in today’s continually choppy environment, leaders are encountering that moment with increased frequency. And it is at this moment that leaders truly earn their pay, because many short-term actions can have devastating long-term consequences, particularly when it comes to innovation.