I’ve talked before about the importance of having a clear business vision. But is it possible to have a vision that’s too focused?
When business vision turns into tunnel vision, it’s possible for even the most insightful entrepreneurs to miss out on opportunities for growth and progress. A focus that is too narrow limits our abilities to see unexpected potential. It also impedes our ability to see how factors outside of our field impact our business’ success or failure.
When business vision becomes tunnel vision
For years, Polaroid was a giant in instant photography. The leaders of the company had vision when it came to developing a business that combined chemistry and photography to generate the sales of cameras and film.
What they didn’t see was how changes in physics and electronics would impact their bottom line. This lack of insight led to the demise of the iconic company. In a 2008 interview at Yale, the company’s former CEO Gary DiCamillo, said “People were betting on hard copy and media that was going to be pick-up-able, visible, seeable, touchable, as a photograph would be.”
Unable to imagine an era in which photographs lived inside of phones that we carried with us everywhere, sharing across internet wires and altering without any chemicals at all, the tunnel vision of Polaroid’s leaders prevented them from preparing for the coming opportunities and for necessary course changes.
Building a balanced vision
To build a balanced vision – one that has a focus on an end goal as well as a healthy peripheral vision, we need to step away from our vision on occasion. We need to look at it objectively within a broader environment. We need to stay up-to-date on external trends and technologies, on sciences and enterprises that may impact the progress of our own business’ growth.
We also need to share our vision with colleagues in other industries, to objective parties, who may be able to poke holes in views that we’ve held too long without critical or creative analysis. Of course we’d all like to think that our ships are unsinkable, but we can’t know until we test them rigorously, and that means subjecting them to the world.
When we focus too narrowly on one goal or on one piece of data or on one problem, we often neglect others. We may focus heavily on social media to the exclusion of more conventional marketing methods or on local growth to the detriment of national expansion.
Just right business vision is creative vision that seeks out all of the factors that may contribute to our successes and failures. It generates its own objective assessments that allow us to measure our growth and our losses. And it’s flexible, open to change and to new input.