If anyone requires a wonderful example of short- versus long-term planning - or tactics versus strategy, perhaps - then they could do worse than study the €700 million ($800 million) lifeline thrown to Piaggio Aerospace by the Italian government.
On the one hand, the series of agreements from the defence and economy ministries secure the storied airframer’s immediate future.
Those contracts - covering nine new P180 Avanti Evos, upgrade and maintenance work, and a commitment regarding certification of the P1HH HammerHead unmanned air vehicle (UAV) - will undoubtedly make the company a more saleable asset.
In addition, they should ensure retention of experienced staff, which will also please potential purchasers (not to mention minimise conflict with Italy’s notoriously intransigent trade unions).
However, on the other, the largesse from Rome does little to address the muddle that led to Piaggio’s financial crisis in the first place.
The P180 possesses sleek, yet unconventional looks, and with its deceptively roomy cabin it is an ideal corporate transport aircraft.
Maybe the long-term does not matter - it is enough for Nicastro to whip Piaggio into a buyable condition and then hand the reins off to a new owner
But there’s the rub: that niche is not enough on its own to support Avanti sales and the twin-pusher lacks the ability to get its hands dirty and also dabble in utility work like the Beechcraft King Air.
In addition, it is questionable whether the continued pursuit of the HammerHead - in development since 2013 - is a worthwhile long-term ambition or simply creating an aircraft that no-one needs.
Piaggio’s state-appointed administrator Vincenzo Nicastro believes that advancing the project will help retain “company know-how” and allow it to participate in future Europe-wide UAV programmes.
Perhaps, but Italy already has an expert in that area - Leonardo - which will be reluctant to cede its position, notably on the EuroMALE development.
Maybe the long-term does not matter - it is enough for Nicastro to whip Piaggio into a buyable condition and then hand the reins off to a new owner. (Of course, whoever acquires the business will still be faced with the same difficult choices that Rome has so far ducked.)
Does Piaggio have a future? Given the initial expressions of interest in the business - almost 40, all told - one might hope so.
But at some stage a clear strategic vision is required - one that lays out precisely what the company is for, particularly if it is sold in its entirety.
Without that, the same process will simply be repeated in a few years’ time.