Accuracy of Timespan

“You see,” Pablo continued, “it’s the ‘by when’ that creates the complexity of any problem.”

“I’m listening,” I said.

“The further our intention is into the future, the more uncertainty, the more ambiguity creeps in. In spite of our best intentions, the future is without precision. My friend Murphy* has a law, with which, I am sure you are familiar. From one day to one week, one month, three months, a year, two years, five years, the longer the timespan, the more uncertain those future events. And, yet, in the face of that uncertainty, we have to make a decision today.”

“We were talking about the size of a role,” I tried to bring this discussion back on point.

“Indeed, some roles, production roles focus on today, tomorrow, this week. Supervisory, coordination roles focus on this week, this month, this quarter. Managerial roles focus on this quarter, this year into next year. Executive management roles focus on this year through five years. The CEO role looks out 5 years and beyond. Using timespan, we can accurately measure the size of the role.”

“And, we were talking about the size of a person,” I prompted.

“Most people are capable today, this week, maybe a month into the future. Meaning, they can perceive things around them and are competent at making near term decisions. As the timespan of the decision increases, some struggle. There is a big drop off at one year. Thinking out, and making effective decisions beyond one year into the future, well, far fewer people have capability at that level.”

*Murphy’s law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Attributed to Capt. Edward A. Murphy, US Air Force, 1949.

2 thoughts on “Accuracy of Timespan

  1. Randy J. Higginbotham

    Thanks for mentioning Murphy’s law! Flash back to my army days, but yet so true. The comment regarding that “most people are capable today, this week and month” is right on target. I see it in business and students. Think about your typical college student, they focus on one semester at a time. We teach young future business professionals, think short term. one semester at a time, perhaps eight times for the degree. It only reinforces short term capabilities. Sure after those eight semesters they get a degree, long term focus, but it doesn’t prepare them for accuracy of timespan. I know a few folks and have heard stories of others, that didn’t manage their classes well in college. This resulted in another semester for a missed class. So this is another example of accuracy of timespan.

  2. Edward James Burke

    Excellent post on uncertainty.
    This is one of the big differences between Management and Leadership and why Time Span is so important.


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