Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On being nimble vs visionary

With the Dow closing below 7000 for the first time in 12 years yesterday, a local financial manager, just back from an appearance on CNBC, sent out an email last night capturing his view of the investment free fall.  His central observation:

"We stand resolved that the ability to react is now more important than the ability to predict."

As I read this, it hit me as very applicable to any setting in which we seek to deliver value to a customer.  Customers change their mind.  The worlds in which our customers work change, constantly, in ways we can never predict.  Clearly, the current economic downturn is creating more uncertainty than we have seen in a generation. 

So why would we attempt to "predict" the future?  Why not focus instead on being able to react more rapidly than ever?  To be more nimble, more versatile, more flexible?  To build systems and people to be responsive?  To build systems which do not depend on being clairvoyant?

The answer is obvious. And is the Lean leader should be spending time.

Keep on learning.


Scott Sorheim said...

Great post. I tweeted about it (http://twitter.com/scottsorheim/status/1274257136) and also blogged (http://leantech.com/blog/?p=83) about it. Good stuff!

Gilad Langer said...

I would argue - why not be both. I think that a missing aspect in you discussion is the realization of the type of environment that we live in, which inherently has patterns that are repetitive. In a dynamic environment observing patterns is very important, and in fact can be indicative and sometimes also predictive. However the problem is that when people think of predicting something they always think about specifics and such predictions are typically false.