Managing for the Short Term: The New Rules for Running a Business in a Day-to-Day World

Overview

As managers, senior executives, and CEOs all over have painfully discovered, if you don’t manage for the short term, you won’t be around for the long term. Bestselling business author Chuck Martin found that nothing consumes business managers more than how to manage a company in the weeks and months immediately ahead.
As founder of NFI Research, an executive think tank made up of some 3,000 high-level executives at over 1,400 companies, Chuck Martin has interviewed and gathered ...

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Overview

As managers, senior executives, and CEOs all over have painfully discovered, if you don’t manage for the short term, you won’t be around for the long term. Bestselling business author Chuck Martin found that nothing consumes business managers more than how to manage a company in the weeks and months immediately ahead.
As founder of NFI Research, an executive think tank made up of some 3,000 high-level executives at over 1,400 companies, Chuck Martin has interviewed and gathered the results of thousands of management specialists the world over to discover how companies are successfully zeroing in on improving short-term performance, while still balancing these efforts with long-term strategic goals. By looking to managers and executives at companies like IBM, SAP, Deloitte & Touche, Kraft, AT&T, Dow Chemical, and hundreds of others, Martin has uncovered the “best practices” that help propel short-term performance. Among them:

•Bridging the enormous disconnect between management’s strategic goals and the ability of front-line managers and employees to implement these goals

•Moving even the biggest projects forward incrementally, delivering tangible results at each step along the way

•Putting together time-based and events-based teams that can focus specifically on essential short-term decisions and goals

•Creating incentives to reward short-term results

What Chuck Martin has found is that companies that adopt practices designed to achieve short-term results are usually better positioned to achieve their long-term strategies as well.

A critically important management book thataddresses one of the overriding concerns of businesses today, Managing for the Short Term is an essential addition to any manager’s toolkit.

"Managing for the short term is not simply about moving faster. It is about moving smarter. It is about effective implementation and operation within the context of mission and vision. Strategy is implemented through a series of small steps and rapid, short-term decisions within that long-term view. It forces managers to become more effective at achieving the measurable results required by today's climate."
From Managing For the Short Term

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
As opposed to short-term management - which implies an exclusive, even myopic, focus on short-term goals only - "managing for the short term" means using small steps and short-term decisions to successfully achieve long-term goals, writes Martin, author of The Digital Estate. One of the pillars of managing for the short term is quantification. Martin is chairman and CEO of the Net Future Institute. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385504355
  • Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/21/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

CHUCK MARTIN is the chairman and CEO of the renowned think tank NFI Research. The author of Net Future and the New York Times business bestseller The Digital Estate, he lectures extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. He advises some of the best-known companies in the world. A former vice president of IBM, Martin was the founding publisher and COO of Interactive Age.

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Read an Excerpt

1 The New World of the Short Term

Work today is like a perpetual motion machine set on fast forward. A souring economy globally, a U.S. recession, and massive business fallout from the terrorist attacks of September 11 are driving businesses and individuals in those businesses to rethink how they move their organizations and themselves forward.

The challenges of this rapidly changing business environment mean that there is more work to do than there are people to do it. The workload and pace can seem overwhelming--that is, if anyone ever has time to stop and think about them.

Managers are facing constant change, in a time when there has never been more to do and less time in which to do it. Workers at all levels, from the rank and file to senior executives, are coming in early, leaving late, and often working at home at night and on weekends.

Bombarded by requests from above and below in management structure, managers end their days feeling that they didn't get anything done but are completely drained by the effort of putting out fires. Strategies and vision are discussed at off-site meetings, only to take a back seat once everyone returns to the office and the realities of day-to-day life or the latest crisis. Executives and managers dash from meeting to meeting, often coming out with a longer to-do list than the one they went in with.

Middle managers have to deliver on higher expectations for performance in a shorter time frame, using a workforce that makes higher demands on the organization. As a result, managers are finding themselves rolling up their sleeves and, in many cases, performing some of the work they are simultaneouslysupposed to be managing others to do.

But middle managers aren't alone in facing tougher expectations. Senior executives are facing more demanding situations outside the company, from shareholders and the capital markets to customers. Executives are being pushed by those external forces to deliver more and more in less and less time.

These pressures have been building over several years. They were first felt when the emergence of the Internet created the concept of "Internet time." When the networking of the world began to change business, both start-ups and their larger competitors had a sense that nothing could happen quickly enough. The little guys' mantra was "Get big fast," while the more established competitors were haunted in many cases by the spector of the proverbial "seven guys in a garage" inventing something that would destroy their business. But the need to meet greater expectations in a shorter time with fewer resources really began to be felt in the bones of the business world as a whole with the recession that began in early 2001, when unemployment figures began to head higher. In the months that followed:

•Between March and December 2001, 1.2 million Americans lost their jobs.

•For the first time since 1990, more than half of major U.S. companies--5 8 percent--reported layoffs during the 12 months prior to June 30, 2001.

•The wave of layoffs did not simply affect a person here and a person there. In November 2001, there were 2,699 mass layoffs of 50 people or more, compared to the 1,697 layoffs of the previous November. Those November 2001 layoffs represented 293,074 jobs, compared to the previous November's 216,514.

Workers, managers, and senior executives alike watched as their colleagues found themselves hunting for jobs, and worked even harder to try to avoid being the next pink slip out the door. Complicating matters was the disappearance of nearly $5 trillion in market capitalization between March 2000 and October 2001, led by the massive bursting of the Internet bubble. The stocks that figure represented had helped fuel expansion for many companies; when it vanished, companies were forced to rely once again on corporate earnings and profits to fuel any growth. As a result, that growth, whether by acquisition or increased sales, became much harder to achieve, until it finally turned negative and the United States slipped into a recession.

The upheaval and its impact on both individuals and companies have reached seismic proportions, and touch virtually every are of every company. The recession alone did not create these pressures. However, it has increased the need for a means to help companies to make progress toward their goals when it seems that everything is conspiring to prevent it.

Lest these statistics suggest that workplace pressures will disappear with the country's emergence from recession, consider on more finding by the American Management Association: Only 25 percent of those major companies reported cutting jobs because of decreased demand for their products or services. A majority of the layoffs were attributed to structural changes or productivity gains. This indicates that at least some of those jobs may not return with economic recovery. And the pressures are not simply a function of a decimated workforce; as we will see, many are created by fundamental changes in the way business is conducted.

Workload isn't the only challenge. Managers and employees throughout the organization are driven not only by the sheer volume of work, but also by directives from corporate that seem incomplete or, worse, inconsistent and difficult to comprehend. Senior executives try their best to communicate the corporate vision and strategy throughout managerial ranks and the organization. However, many managers are not receiving or totally grasping those messages.

In too many cases, those confusing or misunderstood messages are causing a major disconnect inside organizations between executive and middle management. When that happens, managers end up acting in what they believe is the best interest of their organization, regardless of whether or not it supports the corporate vision.

A New Approach

A new approach is needed to help organizations get more in sync with themselves so they can optimize their potential in these pressing times. Almost as important, this new approach needs to help managers and workers within the organization feel good about what they do, by allowing them to clearly understand the value of their day-to-day individual contributions to the overall purpose of the organization.

While strategy will continue to determine the vision and direction of an organization, managing for the short term
can empower organizations and managers to execute that strategy more precisely and effectively.

Welcome to the world of Managing for the Short Term.

Managing for the short term is a new approach to work. It is an operational philosophy for executives and managers at all levels, a mandate to work more closely aligned with one another around corporate strategies, and make progress within much shorter time frames. Given the realities of the business world today, doing so is no longer an option; it's a requirement. While strategy will continue to determine the vision and direction of an organization, managing for the short term can empower organizations and managers to execute that strategy more precisely and effectively. In addition, information from managers who understand their roles in furthering the organization's goals can affect the planning process in a more real-time way, allowing strategy and direction to be fine-tuned more quickly when necessary.

To be clear, managing for the short term is not short-term management. Short-term management implies that one is managing with no greater goal beyond just getting through the next period of time. Managing for the short term involves purpose. Truly managing well for the short term means being so connected with the organization, so in sync with its goals and objectives, that a manager knows which short-term actions are appropriate and will best improve the organization's overall performance given its long-term strategy.

Managing for the short term is not simply about moving faster. It is about moving smarter. It is about effective implementation and operation within the context of mission and vision. Strategy is implemented through a series of small steps and rapid, short-term decisions within that long-term view. Managing for the short term forces managers to become more effective at achieving the measurable results required by today's climate in both the public and private sectors of the world.

Managing for the short term is about moving efficiently, about organizing process around small, manageable tasks that allow plenty of opportunity for quick reaction to change. It is about coping with the realities of a more mobile workforce and temporary strategic alliances among business partners. It's also about deriving breakthrough strategies from immediate tactics, results, and information, rather than the other way around.

Managing for the short term comprises comprises three major principles:

1. To manage for the short term, everything in business life has to be quantified. This quantification has to be driven down to the personal level, so that each executive or manager understands precisely what he or she can do to either contribute to or impede the organization's ultimate goals and objectives. This should lead to an interrelated company-wide understanding of individual, group, departmental, and divisional contributions.

2. Managing for the short term requires managers at all levels to focus on moving the organization forward in incremental steps in shorter time frames. As they accumulate, these smaller steps should provide incremental benefit to both the organization and the individual taking them. Any required large-scale projects should be broken into smaller pieces with shorter time frames that deliver results-as-you-go.

3. Managing for the short term requires a more focused internal leadership, with highly interactive, internal communication to and among managers at all levels. It requires executives to listen more, and to ensure that the strategy has been received and embraced by those below. After understanding and embracing the organization's objectives, the manager is responsible for keeping the executive ranks informed about market events. The right information has to flow in both directions to get to the right people at the right time.

Managing for the short term is about:

• Closing the gap between where a company wants to go and where the managers and employees can, or plan to, take it

•Leading by communicating and establishing new relationships among all levels of management.

•Using information in new ways to navigate through decisions at all levels.

•A two-way view: Senior executives need to understand the pressures under which their subordinates operate, including customer expectations, while middle-and lower-level managers need to understand the external pressures behind corporate dictates that they may not immediately grasp or support.

•Creating new habits and behaviors at all levels and focusing work on what really matters.

•Being holistically in sync with an organization's strategy, not counter to it

•Making day-to-day progress, not just getting through the day

•A fact of life and an advantage

To have the most impact, the concept of managing for the short term will need to be implemented throughout an organization. However, even small steps can move that organization toward its goals. As each individual learns new skills that will change how he or she works, those efforts can benefit not only the individual but also the organization as a whole.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. I What Is Managing for the Short Term? 1
Ch. 1 The New World of the Short Term 3
Ch. 2 The Manager and the Business Blur 26
Ch. 3 The Disconnect and its Impact on the Organization 54
Ch. 4 Managing for the Short Term vs. Planning for the Long Term 63
Pt. II Managing the Organization for the Short Term 83
Ch. 5 It's All About the Numbers 85
Ch. 6 Incremental Forward Motion 102
Ch. 7 Are We Communicating? 125
Ch. 8 Communicating Down the Line 144
Ch. 9 Leading for the Short Term 158
Ch. 10 Managing People for the Short Term 184
Ch. 11 Using Information to Navigate Through Decisions 200
Pt. III Managing Yourself for the Short Term 221
Ch. 12 Getting to What Matters 223
Ch. 13 The More You Do, the More You Do 233
Ch. 14 Successful Meetings for the Short Term 244
Ch. 15 The Law of Expanding Immediacy 267
Notes 277
Index 295
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    Savvy, well-supported writing

    This book is a winner. It succeeds where other business books fail by focusing on execution ¿- simply but meticulously delineated strategies and best practices for success ¿- rather than nebulous theories and muddy concepts. Martin carefully identifies problems in the workplace and outlines solutions not simply by asking us to take him at his word, but by providing relevant statistics, interviews, and case studies. While the impressive (and often fascinating) research is essential to the book, I found the interviews and case studies to be especially engaging and illustrative. Also notable is the cross-job function appeal: it is likely that top executives and first-tier managers alike will find Martin¿s advice pertinent and valuable. A must-read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2002

    Immediate practical uses for managers and execs

    Chuck Martin is focused on the real and now. This book is not about pondering philosophical truths or strange occurrences in business. It is about statistics observed in major companies and shows how executives deal with the things that make businesses run, grow, and fail. Managing for the short term helps executives and managers align themselves in a practical way through viewing the organization and oneself. To me, it is a business guide and reality check. I can use the book as a ¿consultant in print¿ to modify the way I work and direct my company. The book's chapter 7 fortified the value proposition in my company's strategic plan for supporting corporate communications services. Well done and well written.

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