A poverty of planning focus bad for business

 

By Michelle Hill

 

1 October 2014

 

How much more difficult to plan it must be when you are living under a cardboard shelter at a landfill.  And yet, we business owners in developed New Zealand working in our currently healthy economy, can also be easily distracted.

 

During a recent visit to Fiji, I worked as a volunteer with the New Zealand Aid Koroipita Rotahomes Project which provides very basic housing for people in dire need.  Many of these families have been come into the village we were working at from a life of living in cardboard shelters in landfills.

 

Working with people on the very harsh edge of poverty was a powerful reality check when it comes to realising what matters in life - and in business.

 

The Rotahome huts provide very basic shelter and sanitation for families identified as needy – some 840 were on the waiting list when I left – for a rental of $1 a day. It gives them a chance at life.

 

Living very simply from one day to the next, they celebrate every achievement meeting their short- term needs whether that’s gathering enough taro for a meal or even better, getting a week’s work at a sugar cane plantation on the minimum wage of $2 an hour.

 

They have no room to venture beyond the core fundamentals of life, to have the luxury of planning for the long-term, strategically mapping out their future and tracking their progress. But they are remarkably resilient and happy, celebrating each small success and focusing on the next.

 

The lesson for us as business owners in a currently healthy economy and culture is that we tend to lose sight of the core fundamentals. We stray into peripheral issues at the expense of celebrating daily successes, reflecting on where we’ve been and focusing on where we’re going.

 

It is often easy to say that we are too busy to pull back into rudimentary details but it is critical to our strategic planning to look at where we are now, where we have been, where we want to go and then determine the strategies necessary for getting there.

 

This is about “getting back to basics”, taking the time to refocus our attention on the fundamental elements and habits of business we may have neglected. 

 

The idea of getting back to basics should be incorporated into our goal-setting and strategic planning activities.

 

We have the ability to continuously shift our focus back and forth from our short-term needs to our long-term possibilities, so the ability to keep a clear focus on both is essential.

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