Is our focus on shareholder value killing our long-term success?

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There is no long-term success without short-term goals. This is irrefutable.

Like the old saying goes, “in the long run we are all dead.”

That out of the way, for your business to thrive and to really maximize its success, you are going to have to marry the short-term and the long-term.

For the last 40+ years, we have allowed a concept of “shareholder value” take control of our thinking on what defines success and failure for our publicly traded companies. This concept has largely been used as a bludgeon for directors and activist investors to get corporations to maximize shareholder value. Typically in the short term, so that they can cash out.

It isn’t an uncommon occurrence to see a company roll out a plan that focuses largely on short term cuts in staffing, cut backs in benefits, or some other cuts to investment that are meant and aimed at getting back on the right side of Wall Street.

In almost every case, these cuts have the short term result of getting a bump in the stock price.

Yet, all too often, the exact same cuts and changes lead to long-term pain for the organization.

It seems logical that the increased volatility of the business lifecycle is driven by this unending need to some how cut our way to innovation, growth, or stock price.

But what does this have to do with short-term and long-term success?

Everything.

Over the last several decades, we have seen that more and more of our businesses feel like they have no responsibility to the world around them.

That their entire job is to improve shareholder value.

This has led to a lot of incredibly short sighted decisions and typically the short-term success comes at a cost of long-term success.

For all of us involved in creating healthy organizations, you can’t get to the long-term without short-term results.

But are you taking the right ones?

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