In business just as in life, you can usually spot trouble coming down the road. There’s a natural tendency to avoid dealing with the problem and hope that it goes away, but it rarely works out that way.
Human nature is to wait for a crisis to actually occur before taking decisive action.
Unfortunately, that leaves you always behind the curve and playing catch-up. That’s not a recipe for success in life and often a formula for disaster in the legislative and regulatory process.
The longer you wait to engage on an issue by educating key allies and policymakers and working to influence the outcome, the more magnified your problem becomes. By sitting on the sidelines, you allow others to define the narrative, line up supporters, and undermine your position.
That makes it harder — and more expensive — to solve the problem. We have all heard the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to public policy.
In fact, it’s more true in public affairs where many advocacy groups have developed a permanent presence to press their views on issues that matter to them. For companies and organizations to stand idly by and wait for the end game to begin makes no sense. While you’re waiting and watching, the other side is laying the groundwork for victory.
With baseball season around the corner, think of it this way: If your entire team doesn’t work out in the off-season and skips spring training, what do you think the chances are that they win in October?
If you know it is only a matter of time before a public policy battle takes place that could have a significant impact on you or your organization, don’t wait for the end game to be defined before engaging. Begin to lay the groundwork now when you can have a greater impact with much less heartburn and far less expense. Dimes spent now will save you dollars — or tens of dollars — down the road.
So put on your policy hat, begin assembling your team, and start practicing and laying the groundwork for the legislative or regulatory season that you know is just around the corner.