Business Climate Change

A few years ago, a goofy senator, from the oil-producing state of Oklahoma, backed by the carbon producing lobby brought a snowball into the Senate as proof that the climate is not warming.  I guess Senator Inhofe confused weather extremes with climate change. There is irrefutable proof that the earth is warming. Just as there is irrefutable proof that as I type this on February 20th it is snowing outside. Whether talking about business or the earth, climate should not be confused with the weather.

Weather is what you experience when you step outside on any given day. In other words, it is the state of the atmosphere at a particular location over the short-term. Climate is the average of the weather patterns in a location over a longer period of time, usually 30 years or more. – NOAA

Legend says that in 1913 Cecil B. DeMille set out from the east coast to film “Squaw Man” in Arizona. The climate in Arizona, warm, dry, sunny. Unfortunately for Arizona, the weather that week was cold, overcast with some rain. Not conducive for an early film industry that required massive amounts of light (sunlight) to achieve acceptable film images. DeMille, kept moved further west and Hollywood became Hollywood. He made a strategic climate decision based on tactical weather information.

Tactical weather data shows that DC experienced four significant snow storms this winter. The tactical weather data indicates that the earth is not warming. Climate records tell me different (see chart below).

In 1997, the Utah Jazz faced off with the Michael Jordan-led, Chicago Bulls. Game five is known as “The Flu Game.” In Quarter one of game five of the NBA finals, Michael Jordan, suffering from stomach flu with a fever of 103°. In the first quarter of the game, he scored 4 points. Jordan’s 1st quarter weather was cold! Fortunately, Phil Jackson, his coach, didn’t make a decision on Jordan’s climate based on the weather of one quarter.  Jordan went on to score 17 points in the second quarter and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, finishing the game with 38 points. The Bulls won the game and the NBA title.

When creating a strategy, it’s dangerous to create a strategic plan based on limited data… be it about the earth, or humans, or a business. Go ahead and deploy tactics to combat current circumstances like today’s weather, your child’s fever, a single big contract signing or contract loss. Don’t make a long-term strategic plan based on a few random, rule-of-small numbers data point. Even Michael Jordan had a few bad games.  Even Clint Longley had a great game (the Clint Longely Game).

As a CEO, your company has a climate. The key employee who quit, the big competitive win, the client that fails to pay. These events are weather events. If one employee leaving or one deal lost defines the climate of the company, your company isn’t warming it is severely underwater thanks to the melted down ice caps.

For a healthy company, every significant event is important.  Yet it is the totality of those events that truly matter… that define the climate of the company. Don’t make the Cecil B. DeMille mistake and stop off in Phoenix in a rainstorm and assume that Phoenix’s climate is that of a rain forest.

Managing weather calls for tactics. Dress warm, carry an umbrella or if you manage a company, hire a replacement, make another sales call. Climate calls for strategy.

Don’t assume that just because it’s snowing outside that the planet isn’t warming. Pay attention to the snow storm, shovel the driveway, manage the significant weather events… but make your strategic decisions based on climate. It is equally important to understand the difference between climate and weather when communicating with your board of directors (see this post on managing your board).

Want to talk about weather or climate? How do you know which is which or whether it’s weather or climate? Do you run a company? Try a complimentary, one-hour, no-obligation, online coaching session. You can schedule your session now by pressing the little red button down there.