Let’s face it: not all companies are brand new, shiny start-ups. Your company may have been around for decades. You’ve seen ups and downs in the bank account. Successes and failures of plans and products. You have impacted the lives of others and others have impacted the company. Being a long-established company can be complicated: there are lots of people, in lots of roles, with lots of responsibilities.
But does this history matter when your biggest concern is the future, and not the past? Of course it does.
Here are some reasons why you should spend time to understand your company’s past:
- Some influences showed up, and they stayed. If your company has been around for a while you have developed thinking habits that still influence how you make decisions. This may be good. But it may also be bad. Identify these influences and then determine whether they are good or bad. And will they be good or bad in the future?
- Some influences showed up, and then they left. There are things that influenced your business that are no longer around. Yet I have seen companies that still plan and act in ways that are no longer relevant, because people think in the same way they did when those trends were around. No one ever rang a bell and said, ‘Hey everyone, the influence left and we can change our thinking now.’
- Some influences may be hidden, and even blind you. Which biases have crept in over the years that resulted from some influence in the past? For example, a business owner once told me that he lost a number of key people in one year, more than 10 years ago. To this day, he still does not want to provide much needed executive training to key people because ‘They may just all leave once I spend money training them.’
- You may need to get rid of some influences. What mind-sets are working against your future success? Identify them, then work out a plan to intentionally get rid of them.
- You may need to take on new influences. In a world that is so focused on efficiency and productivity it is very easy to slip into maximizing profits now. But what new skills and expertise do you require and when?