The best single example of how yesterday’s decisions can kill a business today

pension

If there is one simple example of how what was a good decision yesterday can kill a business today, then it is this. The retirement age and the old age pension:

“When the Government instituted an old age pension for retirement back in 1908, the pension kicked in at age 65. However, the life expectancy was under the age of 60.”

At the time, it was a great decision for the Government. No doubt it was popular, and easy to make the numbers work. Fast forward to today, 2015, and the life expectancy in Australia is 84.2 years for men. It’s now clear there is a problem.

The early decisions organisations make are often what sets them up for long term success. The problem is that sometimes the truth changes. Sometimes the truth on which we set our plan, strategies and even our infrastructure changes. It used to be true that most people didn’t live long past the ‘pension age’, and now it is true that peoples life in retirement could be half as long as their working life. If the government had to make the same decision today, I doubt that they’d come up with the same age to receive a pension.

Many established businesses are like this. They have built successful systems on great decisions made ‘yesterday’. Systems which include offices, staffing, manufacturing, distribution, advertising, new product development, revenue streams, most everything… And so the best question any company facing change can ask is this:

What would we do if we started today?