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Avoid the Wishful Thinking Stall If You Want to Enjoy Irresistible Growth

Feb 29, 2008
"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run him over." --Anonymous

Assuming that future conditions will be what we want them to be -- either for the better or worse -- can stall an enterprise unprepared for the irresistible force of an unpredictable future. You need to recognize the pitfalls of wishful thinking about the future and prepare for both shifts in current irresistible forces and the arrival of new ones through the use of contingency planning.

Let's consider an example of what can go wrong when wishful thinking takes over. The CEO of a start-up computer manufacturer in the early 1980s had developed a 20-year picture of how every aspect of the computer industry would evolve. He could entertain any visitor for hours with how his company's plans would mean that the firm would quickly exceed many billions of dollars in sales because of its shrewd ideas for capitalizing on these trends. How do I know? I was one of his visitors on many occasions.

Yet the company soon foundered, without ever shipping any computers. What went wrong? The 20-year picture in the CEO's mind bore no relation to what was really happening in the computer industry. The company's plans were perfect for the CEO's forecast, but were terrible for the real situation. Many millions of dollars and years of peoples' lives were wasted because of the CEO's wishful thinking that stalled the company's progress.

Why wouldn't he consider any other alternative? He didn't have the mental and emotional toughness to think about what could go wrong. Like a lot of impractical optimists, he preferred telling everyone that everything would be great if they simply believed in him. It's a common delusion of politicians as well as business leaders.

No one can know what future conditions will be. You need to avoid extrapolating current trends into the future but, conversely, to also avoid wishfully thinking that this time things will be different.

You need to think more about all of the significant things that could happen. Such advance thinking will help prepare your organization to act in ways that will take into account these possibilities, such as adopting decision rules that allow plenty of room for uncertainty. In addition, your company will also be much more likely to notice new irresistible forces and have some idea of what to do about them based on this experience.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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