Okay, here’s a Statistic

So Bain has done a growth survey that shows “senior managers spend less than 3% of their time on the long term view of the future.” In comparison, the same study shows, they “spend 40% of their time focused on the things that go on in the 4 walls of the company”. Source: Unstoppable, Chris Zook.
Hmmm. To me, the 3% seems to be about right. That would mean that 2 hours of a 60 hour week are about thinking ahead. So the effective part of going to maybe 2 meetings or 1 meeting and some thinking. On the other hand, I have to believe the 40% is low. Most leaders I witness spend their time looking inside the operation on today’s business, not outside in the market on on moves that could disrupt their current business. One obvious result: they don’t understand their customers at a deep level. And that’s what ultimately leaves them vulnerable for an attack.
Bill Gates supposedly takes 1-full week out of the year to think forward. Others I know block off 1/2 days of every week just for this “white space” to think. And then even if they lose some of that time to “emergencies du jour”, they’ve still left sometime to think, to strategize, to ponder, to derive meaning. Andre Delbecq, a Management Sciences professor at Santa Clara University, once taught me that we all need at least 5% reserve capacity to think ahead and create some room to have that innovative “big” idea. I tend to agree.

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