All management decisions are either about the past or the future.

Decisions about the past are focused on understanding and fixing problems. Your time is spent working out what’s happened, how it happened and what needs to be done to fix the issue, or at least limit its impact to a manageable level. Trading meetings, customer service issues and dealing with operational failures are all about the past.

Decisions about the future are focused on problem prevention and innovation. Time spent making decisions on strategy, planning and new product and service development are all future-focused.

As a manager, you need to balance your time between decisions about the past and decisions about the future. Fixing problems is often seen as urgent, however, and can eat into your time and calendar, leaving little, if any, time to spend on future-focused decisions.

What does your calendar tell you about the share of your time you’re spending understanding and resolving historic issues versus the time you’re taking to shape the future?

Off The Record: Living In The Past by Jethro Tull

Let us close our eyes

Outside their lives

Go on much faster,

Oh, we won’t give in

We’ll keep living

In the past

Getting Your Innovation Strategy Right

Business leaders are constantly exhorted to innovate. But what kind of innovation should managers pursue? The Innovation Strategy Matrix helps you to answer that question and get your innovation strategy right.