China Plans Better than We Do

I was watching Discovery Channel’s “Ted Koppel goes to China,” and an interesting point came up about the benefits of a one-party political system.

I am not advocating communism or anything – far from it.  I love my country, warts and all, and I still believe that there is no better place to live on the entire planet.  But I’m not above taking my head out of the hole once in a while to see what other people are doing.

There’s an obvious difference in a one-party system – “elected” officials don’t worry about re-election.  That doesn’t help that country avoid corruption:  lifelong appointments can be nastier than term limits.  But, not having to worry about re-election does mean that China’s leaders are free to think and plan with long-term objectives in mind.

It seems that our politicians in the last few decades have become so focused on re-election that it clouds their judgment.  They seek “quick-fixes” that increase their approval ratings – much to the detriment of our success as a nation. 

It wasn’t always that way.  We used to plan.  Our elected officials used to believe that they had been entrusted with our future, and they acted accordingly.  As a nation, we aspired to sustainability, growth, long-term viability, providing a future for our children, the health of our people, and the world that we lived in.  We built the Hoover Dam, unlocked the atom and reached the moon – and along the way, made this Nation the most respected and admired country on the planet.

We’ve lost some of that.  We’ve forgotten how to plan greater achievements for the benefit of all mankind.  Perhaps these current economic challenges, the ones that are forcing us to question how we’ve run this nation for the past few decades, may cause us to reconsider the value of planning?

Interestingly, another parallel that may be inextricably linked to the philosophy of our elected officials over the last few decades – the motivations of publicly traded companies.  Public companies seem to share the same short-term orientation as our government – and the results are similarly dissatisfying.

The “market” demands publicly traded companies to look no further ahead than the next quarter’s numbers.  Of course the leaders aren’t to blame.  Their compensation and incentives are based on the short-term maximization of the price of the stock.  Therefore, that’s where they focus.  So they bring all of their talents, intelligence and leadership ability to bear on short-term achievements.

The real shell game, however, is that we kid ourselves into believing we are doing the right thing by wrapping ourselves in the mantle of “increasing shareholder value.”  Middle management and staff employees are duped into believing they are working for a greater good of “shareholder value,” when instead, they are actually sacrificing any potential for long term growth and value creation in favor of maximizing immediate returns.

The way we decouple big business from their fixation on short-term gains and instead convince them of the benefits of long-term, sustainable growth is by doing it ourselves.  Decoupling politicians may have to be done at the polls, but businesses can take the lead on long-term planning for competitiveness of the human resource.

At Skycasters, we have a long-term plan for maximizing customer value and enhancing our workforce.

How do you, as individuals or business owners, plan for the years to come?  

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