To paraphrase the words of the late Stephen Covey, the balance is in the ‘AND’ not the ‘OR’. Therefore, when it comes to real-time or historical management, both are definitely crucial for anyone in a leadership role. They each have a specific place in our management acumen.
By “real-time” I mean that observations and perhaps even decisions are made from information drawn from the current day’s recent hourly data.
By “historical” I mean observations and decisions are made from information drawn from days, weeks, months and even years of data.
Successful leaders believe in the importance of leveraging both approaches. We also recognize that one comes before the other i.e. Historical precedes the Real-Time approach.
The Historical approach exists to provide managers with the opportunity to prepare for the future by extracting trends from the past. Managers equipped with an understanding of their business’ trends are in great position to achieve their future goals. They live and breathe by the necessity of having a plan. A plan inspired by the analysis of their historical patterns.
Because managers accept that plans are a critical success factor, and that plans are not always 100% accurate, managers employ the Real-time approach to tweak their plan throughout the day, hence real-time management.
Let it be known that whatever skill a manager hones while in the Real-Time mode, one must realize that they are the same skills required during the Historical analysis mode, only in the Historical phase one analyzes much longer time frames of data.
Nonetheless, some managers are intent of spending more time in one mode versus another. The proportion of time one should invest in each mode is relative to the industry you are in and how volatile the market is in terms of trends. One thing is certain, great managers invest in both modes in order to achieve their goals.
Sometimes a weak historical approach will forcibly make managers and their teams spend more time reacting in the real-time mode. Ultimately this would weaken their chances of success and would surely increase their operating costs. Conversely, a feeble real-time approach can render your historical efforts virtually meaningless thereby potentially limiting your success.
In conclusion, it is fair to say that great leaders develop skills in both the real-time and the historical mode. They are disciples of good planning. The know how to execute the plans, and they have the wisdom and skills to make prompt changes.
Be sure to include both approaches in your management strategies. And as the saying “if you fail to plan, plan to fail” seems to suggest: one should invest a little bit more time in the historical mode than the real-time mode.
Where do you spend most of your time?