When my kids were young, their teachers would occasionally shake things up in their routines in class, they would call these upside down days (Kerry, my teachers never did this).  This thought came to me recently when I was introduced to a quote by Jeff Bezos, the Amazon guy, on how to think about planning for the future.

It is the end of business planning season and all of the business owners I work with have finalized and shared their plans for 2018.  These are their view of things to come, long term and short.  They are plans based on improving things they do today and plans to adapt and capitalize on an ever changing world.  It is the latter that I am referencing.

Bezos’ quote, which is included below, turns the notion of predicting the things that are unknown to instead, think about the things that are known.  Invest time, energy, and money on the things you know will be true versus the ones that may or may not come true.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t invest in these speculations, but speculative investments are done much more carefully and cautiously.  One of my favorite authors, Jim Collins, in his book Great by Choice calls this “fire bullets, then cannonballs”.

In the IT services industry, where I spend a lot of my time, a few things I feel will remain true are…

  • Clients want their technology to be reliable and predictable
  • They want to feel confident they are making good discussions around technology
  • They want their information and resources to be safe and private

If these are true now and 10 years from now, how does that change the priorities and initiatives for 2018?  Food for thought.


QUOTE:  Jeff Bezos

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”