Gaining Perspective

One of the hardest problems in any endeavor is gaining sufficient perspective to see opportunities that lie just outside of view. We see large organizations suffer from this issue repeatedly, and much talk has been generated upon the death of a visionary who helped Apple by providing just that perspective. It is funny because nothing Apple releases in products today is new, merely they had someone at the helm with sufficient perspective to see the opportunity to bring that tech to market.

We have tons of great tech lying on laboratory floors in institutions and organizations all overthe place. Much of this tech could be applicable to problems outside of it's original designed purpose, but few people who know of it's existence also have the means and perspective necessary to make the mental leaps to explore new markets. Companies reinforce these tendencies by organizational structures which bucket and pidgeonhole individuals in silos that lack broader awareness. Combine that with incentive plans which punish experimentation, failure, or risk and you get stagnation among the ranks. Few governing bodies are willing to risk ventures outside of what are precieved as core competencies. Those companies which do, however, become the Amazons, Googles, IBMs, and GEs of the world.

The rules that make a small business work are similar to those that make a midsized work, or a multinational. The key difference is the level of perspective among leadership necessary to steer the organization. As you grow, the risks to your business tend to become more esoteric, financial regime change, futures markets, political unrest, regulation changes, disruptive technologies, global capital flow. These things can all impact your small business, but they aren't typically things you have the resources to address. You also have bigger problems like making payroll, and probably aren't banking your profits on shuffling money through favorable currency exchanges. Your concerns require micro-focus not macro-focus.

What sets the wildly successful visionary leaders apart from the sugar water sales men, is the ability to hold both in one's head at the same time. To see the relationships between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the ability and opportunity to exploit the imbalances in each.

This goes for everyone btw. Not just Steve.