Business Magazine

Why You Need to Get out More

Posted on the 23 July 2013 by Alanhargreaves @RechargeToday

Great ideas don’t show up at the office. 

“One damn thing after another.” According to a book called Managing by Harvard professor Henry Mintzberg, that defines the average day for most managers. There’s always something to handle.

He’s right. Stuff keeps happening. No one ever came into my office and said, “I just want you to know everything is going great.”

Strategy and leadership play a big role in business theory, but day-to-day action defines the job. To be effective,

Why you need to get out more
you can’t confine strategic thinking to the two-day annual offsite. Somehow you have to mix the two.

How can you un-clutter your head and keep open to new ideas?

Once, it might have been done over the long lunch. It wasn’t unusual to resolve issues over port. New initiatives could arise magically out of the cigar smoke.

Times have changed. Lunches are shorter. Alcohol and tobacco have been consigned to history, at least at lunchtime. That’s probably good. But, whether you lead a team or a firm, you still need input other than your own.

It’s easy to get stuck in the office. To stay at the leading edge of your firm and your industry, you need to get out more with three different groups of people.

Whom should you date?

The first is obvious: customers. Being a manager brings status. Use it. Arrange to meet your opposite number at

Why you need to get out more
a customer firm. It will add glue to that most crucial relationship. They will feel respected and prioritized.

Equally, you will get a feel for trends in the industry. How are their requirements changing? What’s their financial condition? Are competitors scoring points? Why? These are the conversations that lead you outside the square of your day-to-day responsibilities.

The second is your opposite number in firms where you are the customer. It’s an equally rich vein. What’s happening to demand for their services? What are competitors doing with your suppliers? Subtle changes in the supply chain can be early warnings of strategic shifts in your sector.

Why you need to get out more
It can also be simply operational. Can you collaborate, streamlining supply lines and logistics to help you deliver your product better, faster or cheaper? Are these or other opportunities lurking in your supply chain?

Lastly, there’s your opposite number at related firms, including competitors. Understanding and jointly addressing industry-wide issues can help you and your reputation. You need to be leading these initiatives, not hearing about them later.

Why you need to get out more
It’s also an opportunity to talk with an equal about handling your people, your board or the difficult challenges that come with any business. We all have to manage both up and down. There’s great leverage in sharing your management issues with a trusted network of equals.

You can’t do it in the office.

Try broadening your management experience by scheduling one morning a week away from your workplace. Expose yourself to minds other than your own. It’s not a time-out; it’s a rewarding element of healthy management. It will build relationships, offer you opportunities for leadership and provide you with a source of innovative ideas.

To stay at the leading edge, do lunch or it’s equivalent, and do it often.


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