In the military, young officers and NCOs are taught to think “beyond the next hill.” This means that you can’t just focus on the next objective, the next tactical bound (an intermediate objective for movement), or the next moment. You have to constantly be thinking of what can happen next. You also have to think of what can or can’t happen as a result of your decisions and actions. It’s not unlike what good chess players, good pool players, and good golfers do. They are constantly thinking of the moves and countermoves that will follow the next one.

The same applies in business. As I was discussing his potential hiring of a manager with one of my clients, I reminded him of the need to look beyond the immediate actions and consequences. What could conceivably happen if the person he was looking at hiring turned down his compensation offer. Would he be able to accept those consequences? What would he do if he didn’t, or if he did? How could other stakeholders react? What alternative solutions were possible?

You don’t have to become obsessed with looking beyond the next events or actions, but you have to be at least as alert to these possibilities as a young military officer or NCO, or a good golfer, chess player, and snooker player.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted for non-commercial purposes with full and proper attribution.

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