“I want results, and I want them yesterday!”
“In the long run we are all dead!”
Instant gratification can be cool (till a point). It makes us feel smart / accomplished…other fun things. No patience required. Risk seems manageable. Best thing since sliced bread!
But… how to create space to also look beyond the corner, anticipate the future. After all, we need to know where the ball is going next and not just where it was.
When this issue comes up, I always hear a Smart Alec comment — “Well, its not an either-or”.
Well — that’s true only in specific situations. And the issue with comments like this is that they are like a broken clock. Even a broken clock is right twice a day :-)
It can very much be either-or.
And knowing when is when makes all the difference.
Think of it this way — the same eye cannot be staring into a microscope and a telescope at the very same time. Both telescope and microscope magnify details. Critical to ask what are we trying to magnify?
So — if as a leader / investor / employee (whatever), we bring a microscope to a telescope opportunity or vice versa, its not going to end well!
‘nough said. Time to get to something practical…
Q1. How to identify that a microscope is being used on a telescope problem or vice versa?
Why does that happen?
The answer, basis my experience, lies in detecting two signals:
1. Over extended knowledge: When you let folks who don’t really understand the topic (or have the humility to learn) have an opinion on it or even worse put them in a position to influence it
2. Bad incentives: When folks involved have incentives to think short-term on a mid-term issue or vice versa
Q2. How to create capacity to look through a telescope? Or move towards where the ball is going to be even if everyone is busy kicking the ball where it is currently?
Consider “Stealth Mode”
I would urge the leaders to consider the power of putting some ideas in “stealth mode”. This way you let the ball reach where you anticipate it to reach and then unleash your power move.
Stealth mode creates the enabling context where people can align their resources and incentives on the right time horizon…
…Use the telescope to magnify the right opportunities… Not be criticised for ignoring today’s problem.
As investors / leaders / employees, if we are not open to having some of our bets in ‘stealth mode’ aren’t we missing an important strategic muscle?
PS: Views are personal