Seeing Around Corners
To navigate dizzying change, business leaders need to develop intuition and imagination to envision disruptions before they appear.
Business leaders pride themselves on steely rationality, making decisions based solely on hard facts and data. But in a world of dizzying change, relying solely on spreadsheets leaves you vulnerable. To lead in uncertain times, intuition and imagination matter as much as logic.
Imagine you’re driving a winding mountain road in the fog. If you fixate only on the yellow line in front of you, disaster awaits around the next blind turn. Survival requires “seeing around corners” – identifying hazardous curves before you reach them.
Leadership works the same way. In stable times, analyzing past trends may suffice. But when gale-force winds of change rise, leaders need radar to spot industry megatrends and looming icebergs years before impact.
Legendary Intel CEO Andy Grove called it his “strategic inflection point” theory. Smart leaders don’t just extrapolate linear trends. They envision massive discontinuities on the road ahead – self-driving electric vehicles making gas engines obsolete or AI transforming white-collar work overnight. The extremes envision seem outlandish until they suddenly materialize.
Fortunately, leaders can cultivate “peripheral vision” to expand their range. They visit cutting-edge companies in emerging fields and talk to envelope-pushing thinkers. Peer round multiple corners by tapping future-focused trend reports. Immerse in science fiction to spark imagination. Challenge assumptions in your strategy – how might geopolitics, climate change or pandemics flip your business model upside-down?
The fog of uncertainty will only deepen. With dizzying speed of technology shifts, no past algorithm can predict the future. Survival demands a sixth sense to envision alternate realities. Logic and spreadsheets provide context, imagination shows the way. Sharpening your ability to imagine discontinuities will widen your sightline around the foggy turns ahead. The future favors the visionary.