Focus on the outside

As managers, it is often easy to get caught up in the everyday. The constant demands of the email in-box, the regular board and management meetings, the routine of operations or the unending unforeseen issues that require your attention can be quite consuming.

However, a key function of the manager is to interpret the outside environment and ensure the organisation responds adequately to it.

Innovation and entrepreneurship places an even higher responsibility of staying ahead of the rapidly changing world and setting a pro-active agenda rather than simply reacting to it.

In order to do this, one must focus on the outside, as much as, if not more than, the inside.

For inside a business there are only costs. Almost all revenues are outside the business.

To do this, one must take time to communicate to one’s customers and more importantly the non-customers.

A good habit is to spend some time each week or fortnight at reception answering incoming calls, or if you have a retail business in the practice or store. Call, visit or have meal with your corporate customers to have a genuine understanding of their needs and whether you are satisfying them.

Every time, I practice this, I learn something invaluable from the experience.

Non-customers are just as important. Spending time with your competitors, experiencing their products and services, understanding what works and what doesn’t in their organisation is also a critical exercise to undertake regularly.

Then there is the world at large. Simply driving to work a different way once a week or fortnight has given me insights I would never have acquired if I stuck to my routine.

In order to ensure the organisations we lead are best equipped for the present and the future, leaders must look outside the window as often as they view their internal operations.