now we cross to …

My first memory of self-mocking Australian TV comedy was a 70s show called The Naked Vicar Show. I don’t remember a lot but there are a few sketches seared in my memory. One used footage from Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. As he descended the ladder and spoke those famous words, “One small step for man …” the coverage was abruptly interrupted by a voice that drawled, “Now we cross to racing at Moonee Valley.”

The Friday evening before last I was settled in front of Channel 7. Along with 50 billion others I watched the Prince walk up the red carpet with all the pompous surroundings and the world waited for Kate to arrive. And then the coverage was interrupted by a smiling suit that informed us, “Viewers in the southern states will now cross to the football for the match between Carlton and the Sydney Swans.” Indeed we will.

Strategy is about stuff that matters in the long run. Leaders who are strategic suspend the noise and apparent urgency of immediate operational needs and prepare the organisation for the future. During the half-time happenings at Docklands yesterday my brother-in-law Gregg and I were talking about how in junior sport everyone follows the ball around, and I was reminded of Wayne Gretzky’s famous commentary on what made him such a dominant (ice hockey) player. “I skate to where the puck is going to be.”

It takes great courage in an organisation to be strategic, especially when most people are interested in looking somewhere else, typically the urgent needs of this week. This week is important too, but someone in the organisation must have the courage to ‘cross to thinking about the future’.

Take a step back. What is consuming leadership energy in your organisation? Is it time for someone to interrupt the telecast?