Horizon 2 - 'no man's land'

There's a reason Horizon 2 was referred to as 'no man's land' in a recent HBR article.  It is the catalyst for organisational transformation, but it presents unique challenges for senior managers. 

Horizon 1 strategies are less complex.  The variables are usually well understood, and they have a relatively short term action-response pattern.  Horizon 1 should be the focus of the middle managers, but senior managers must maintain a watch on implementation.

Horizon 3 strategies are option plays. By their nature they represent low cost investments that allow the organisation to pull back if the option  does not look like delivering value.  

Horizon 2 strategies are different:

  • the investment is usually material and irreversible;
  • the detail of the strategy unfolds as it progresses; and
  • the full results of the strategies will usually not be apparent until 3-5 years into the program.

And all the while the executive team have to maintain the delivery of the short term results.

Can you articulate the three distinct horizons of your strategy?  How much of the executive attention is directed toward Horizon 2?   In today's world putting your nose to the grindstone may result in serious harm.