Strategy is the grand road of management. Searching for “Strategic Management” on Google generates 518 million results. However, very few people are involved in strategy. Sometimes it is even only one person. Most of the activity in a company is focused on the management of immediacy and not on the long term.
If theories abound on managing the future of a company, almost nothing exists on the management of the immediate. For example, our students, proud of their university degrees, are strategy experts à la Tim Cook or Jeff Bezos. However, when they enter a company, they are lucky if they have permission to touch the photocopier.
Unfortunately, the management of immediacy is a kind of poor relation of modern management. However, poor management of immediacy can kill a company. What is the point of having a grand vision if you cannot pay your fixed costs or maintain your cash flow?
To face this challenge, it may be necessary to turn to the master of the immediate, the one who lives fully in the present moment and can make the most of it. This expert is the cat.
It is the view of the British philosopher John Gray (the author of “Men come from Mars; women come from Venus”). He has just published a book entitled “Feline Philosophy”. The cat’s wisdom is precisely to be fully immersed into immediacy and not to be burdened with theories about rationality or about being and non-being. According to the author, the cat’s philosophy can be compared with Taoism and Spinoza’s Ethics. Nothing less… but for a company?
The cat is always monitoring his environment. He knows how to discern the slightest noise that may be important to him and forget the rest. A cat will ignore the sound of disco music around him but will be sensitive to the scratching of a mouse.
Likewise, a good leader must always be attentive to his environment. He needs to know how to distinguish between noise and essential information. It means spending more time outside the company, especially with customers, suppliers, and, why not, with competitors. This is what Peter Drucker, one of the founders of management theory, advised.
Secondly, a cat is extraordinarily alert to the slightest opportunity that may arise in its environment. Even if it is sleeping, the cat can wake up instantly to chase a bird or take advantage of a moment of inattention and steal something in the kitchen.
Likewise, a good leader can quickly seize an opportunity, such as buying out a company that is struggling in the market, even if it does not immediately fit in with his objectives or strategy. This ability to seize opportunities is often the hallmark of great entrepreneurs.
The cat also shows remarkable resilience. It can run away quickly in the presence of a dog or take shelter when it rains. Under these circumstances, he immediately makes the right decision without overthinking.
Similarly, a good leader knows how to react quickly in crisis times without necessarily conducting long and complicated analyses or setting up committees. It is the famous “gut feeling” that comes with experience – or is a gift. Better a partial decision right away than no decision at all.
Too many companies neglect immediacy or consider that it is not a noble activity like strategy. Yet immediacy is at the heart of one of the essential functions of a company: customer relations. In this area, success consists of reacting immediately and well.
To be competitive, a company must know how to develop rapid, epidermic, and therefore feline reactions. Mark Twain said: “If we could cross man and cat, it would improve the man, but it would degrade the cat. “
Therefore, as it is not possible, we might as well imitate the cat in its management of immediacy, immediately…