'Long-term Sustainability equals Short-term Survival'​ by George Kemish

When I saw this quote on social media a few weeks back, it seemed to me that it contradicted itself but, having given it a little more thought, this might not be the case. However, it has been difficult to fathom, as it was just a quote - without context.

Having looked up 'sustainability' in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary the explanation given was 'maintaining continuously for a long period'. I can only presume that the person who originally made the quote meant that if you sustain the current equilibrium (continuity), as opposed to looking at what the customer might require in the future (but does not yet realise the need), then you will have little to offer the customer in the shorter term (having not already looked to the future in the past). If that is the case, then I would agree with the quote as it would suggest a market-centric, rather than a customer-centric, approach to business. One where people are looking from the Inside/Out rather than from the Outside/In; one where innovation and creativity take second place to reacting to change in the external environment rather than leading with change.

In order to nurture innovation and creativity, business leaders need to choose the right strategies, capabilities, structure, culture and leadership. They also need to ensure that everyone in the organisation is looking outward, taking stock of changing needs in the external environment, and that there is full collaboration throughout the business to ensure that people can undertake the necessary actions to ensure that the company is in a position to take the lead in the marketplace ahead of their competitors. Through a series of articles, I recently provided an insight into how this might be achieved. The articles were:

Strategic Agility - A Pathway to Growth
Strategic Agility - Collaboration
Strategic Agility - Leadership and Accountability
Strategic Agility - Organisational Design
Strategic Agility - An Overview of Companies that are Leading in the Marketplace.

What are your thoughts?


George Kemish is a consultant specialising in HR Strategy, Workforce Planning and Business Scenario Planning. Having started out as an apprentice in the engineering industry he moved into business administration where he held management posts in both HR and Financial Management from 1978 to 1993.

For the next 14 years George held a senior management position in the Education Sector with responsibility for Management & Financial Accounting; HR Management; Secretarial Services; Facilities Management; Events Management, Catering Management; Marketing; Public Relations; Management of Freedom of Information & Data Protection. As Secretary to the Board of Governors he was also responsible for: Advising on the interpretation of all legislation, regulations & best practice relating to corporate governance; committee administration; drafting of the annual corporate report (including year-end accounts); drafting of the business plan to support short, medium and long-term strategic planning.

In 2007 George moved to the Ministry of Defence where he was responsible for HR Strategy and Manpower Planning in respect of worldwide operations until 2016 when he founded his company; specialising in Business Planning from a HR perspective.