Long Range Planning


Last week was a long range planning week.

As a corporate board, we approved long term financing for an acquisition. We led our hospital client’s philanthropy and master planning to build a new facility by 2030. Another client hired a CEO who hopefully will be in the saddle for a decade or more. Then on the weekend there was a birthday party for a six-year old niece. Her father is planning their financial future through college graduation in 2032. On Monday I tagged along with a grandson to the first day of kindergarten. What will his world be like when he completes his education in 2035?

On my professional side of life, strategic planning has become more short term than ever, given today’s hyper-competitive markets and much shorter payback on new product launches. But there’s one aspect of long-range business planning that still has an important place in the mid-market: critical skills development.

The trend is clear – we can’t rely on the marketplace to provide experienced employees with skills that are needed, especially when a key team member leaves to pursue other opportunities. Low unemployment (~2 % in Silicon Valley) and more specialized skill needs at all levels catapult training and development from the sidelines into the spotlight.

Industry after industry is learning that it’s imperative to “grow our own.” That requires insight to the skills sets that will be critical as team members mature into key players for the business.

  1. Relationship development with customers?

  2. Online (not necessarily social media) marketing?

  3. Distribution efficiency?

  4. Learning to lead others who have little technology savvy?

  5. Using training as a hiring incentive?

For the “grow our own” long range element of strategic planning, training budgets are only as good as our insights to the critical skills that will be needed.

I want my grandson to have a choice of employers who will commit to his continuing education in the fast-changing world he will face in 2035. It starts with an explicit management commitment during today’s strategic planning that training budgets will move from “first-to-slash” to a more protected status.

Rob Eskridge


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