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Successful companies often think 20 to 30 years ahead.

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Often when companies undertake long-term strategy, they look only 10 to 15 years into the future. But consultant Francis Wade, in the Jamaica Gleaner, says it's important to consider a 25- to 30-year future.

He acknowledges that his own clients are shocked by that prospect, arguing it's unrealistic to think that far ahead. But he replies that it's no different than what Columbus did, when he committed his voyagers to travel to lands that were over the horizon. "It is impossible to accomplish big goals unless you are able to see that far in your mind's eye," he says.

As well, when executives look that far into the future, they stop focusing on themselves and their personal goals. It's no longer about them; they must focus on the company and its next generation of leaders.

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On his blog, Mr. Wade notes that many strategic plans fail in what he calls "the last mile." For a plan to be effective, a number of things must happen in the daily working world of the employees who implement it. Notably, they must find the time to implement the strategy and they must learn how to change their habits, practices and rituals. No matter how brilliant the strategy is – or how far it looks into the future – it will fail unless that last mile is addressed.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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