Long-Term Thinking

When we are laying out long-term plans I most often hear people talking about what will change over that period of time.
  • What will change in the next 10 years?
  • How do we get in front of those changes?
  • Are we positioned to withstand or better yet, take advantage of them?
  • How do we protect the downside of our position?
All good questions but Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon and someone who knows a thing or two about long-term planning, has a another idea. In NY Times Best seller Bold: How to grow Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler outline how Bezos re-frames his thinking for long-term by asking “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” You can build a business around something that will be consistently stable.

Adding a wrinkle to this idea, what Bezos has actually done is to identify what will not change over time about something very specific, his customers. What do customers want that will not change in the next 10 years? His answer is lower prices, faster delivery, better selection. Can imaging someone actually saying, love what you’re doing but i wish you’d charge me more? Not likely.
Next, he’s found the cross section if things that will change in the next 10 years. This includes the intranet, eCommerce, logistics, supply chain, delivery mechanisms. Amazon leverages these┬áchanges – forces the changes, becomes a market leaders in the changes, to improve their position. All of this is done by keeping an eye firmly on what does not change. They are actually driving change, as opposed to waiting for it to happen to them, within each of the areas they identify rapid motion.
Let’s take a step back from Amazon and apply this thinking to your business…
  • What will not change in the next 10 years?
  • Start by focusing on your customer. What are they looking for today?
  • Have they been consistent in that expectation or is it changing? Keep in mind that increased expectations are consistent. You can expect people to expect more of you 10 years from now.