Payback cycle in simple terms is the duration over which a particular project continues to yield results. The question for you is:
The work pressures of today won’t let you think about stretching the payback cycles. Everyone wants the fastest payback and they want it NOW! This will force us to look for payback in the immediate future. In fact, if you are not in a leadership role, people don’t even expect you to think about stretching payback cycles – which is one of the reasons you should start thinking about this topic.
To get you to start thinking, let’s do some retrospection. What projects were you involved in the last ten years or so that are continuing to yield results even today? If you have a lot of them, congratulations! you just have to continue what you are doing. If you can’t recollect many projects that fit this category, think about what could you do differently on your current projects so that years from now, some of the projects are still continuing to yield results.
When I do this exercise in groups, there are people who feel sad that they can’t think of any projects in the past that has had a long payback cycle. However, when I ask them if there are things from their past (projects, accomplishments, relationships etc.) that they could leverage today to get some results (and in turn stretch payback cycles) suddenly there is a sign of hope.
I am of the firm belief that there are things in our closets of the past that are not fully leveraged thus shortening payback cycles for many of our investments. Once we become conscious of this, things change dramatically.