Right now, 2030 may look like a hazy distant watercolor painting. As a CEO, your job is to understand a future that no one else sees and to shape your company for that future.

How we think about this new decade will determine our success. Forget where you want to be three or five years from now – think longer term.

Changing your organizational structure to look like a company of 2030 is imperative. What you do then may be totally different than what you’re doing now and that’s okay. Those who succeed will have a willingness to change personally and organizationally as often as necessary – even if it upends conventional wisdom.

My belief is that it comes down to having an opinion about the forces that are going to be at play in your particular industry. Based on that opinion, it’s then how you adjust your company to respond to those forces.

CEOs and business owners can see some of the future by looking closely at where we are today as an industry, as an economy, and how our customers are evolving.

As long as immigration is on hold, we’re going to have an undersupply of labor particularly at the unskilled level such as picking field crops, basic construction work, or janitorial services.

If you don’t have the normal supply of workers that feed those functions, how are you going to adapt? Are you going to go out of business? Are you going to figure out a way to
be more productive with what you do have? Are you going to look at automation? Are you going to pay whatever the market demands to get great people and charge accordingly? There are a variety of strategies to get prepared.

I’ve spent more than 40 years as a CEO in residential building and development so the modern example I refer to is construction.

If I define myself as single-family for-sale homebuilder, that piece of the industry is stagnant. If I say “my job is to create shelter for people” then I could offer single-family or multi-family rentals, mixed use developments or granny flats as modules in peoples’ backyards. There are a variety of things you can do when you think more broadly. With that my company
could evolve.

The Godfather of change A friend I’ve known for 20 years is the CEO of a family run homebuilding company in Chicago founded in the 1960s. He is thinking about leaving Illinois and moving to Charlotte to preempt the next decade.

It reminded me of the first  Godfather movie when the Corleone family decided to move to Las Vegas because the olive oil business and rackets around New York were not lucrative  anymore, but gambling was on the rise.

I offered opinions about why Charlotte would be a good place for him to go. There is a continual downward spiral inside Chicago because Illinois keeps raising taxes to keep up with pension obligations.

North Carolina is the opposite. It’s extremely business-friendly and growing.

My opinions were based on a few facts and projections of where those facts are taking us. In the case of Illinois, there has been no instance since the early 2000s when the taxes haven’t been going up, people haven’t been leaving and the economy is sputtering – even downtown, the last bastion.

I asked my friend where he thought Chicago would be 60 years from now? In the southeast, the last 60 years have shown a continual improvement in business and living. Where would
he rather tie his company’s performance and his family’s fortunes?

A CEOs job is to think the unthinkable.  You have to at least imagine what might happen and decide if the risks or rewards are credible. Then develop data to analyze your judgments and credibility over time.

For example, in California, demographic data exists about people leaving and coming into the state. You can track this data to see if it’s accelerating, decelerating, or holding
steady. You can also examine the financial health of the state because it’s worrisome that a big chunk of its money is tied to one source – the tech world.

These big strategic decisions are tough for a CEO. They involve huge risk and potentially huge reward. Data is important, but in projecting the future, data is only one data point. Getting input from a variety of experienced peers is also helpful in providing perspective and challenging a potential decision.

In the end it is the CEO’s decision. The real question is, how will you make the best decision for your organization?

Join our next CEO Introduction to Vistage
Experience for yourself why top CEOs and executives turn to Vistage peer advisory groups, purpose-built to help leaders improve the performance and outcomes of their businesses. For more information call George Casey at 207.869.5491

Vistage is the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses.

GEORGE CASEY leverages 40+ years of experiences as a residential building and development CEO, consultant, board member and Vistage Chair to guide local business leaders through transformation. He can be reached at George.Casey@VistageChair.com, (207) 669-5491 or vistage.com.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: