June 10, 2010 Leave a comment
Yesterday I saw Guy Kawasaki speak on the subject of innovation. Guy was at Apple computer in its early days and today is a prolific business author and venture capitalist who listens to countless pitches on ideas for new products and businesses.
One of the points Kawasaki made was how limiting beliefs and narrow thinking can result in lost opportunities…He cited:
- the 1876 internal memo from Western Union stating that “the telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered a means of communication”
- the 1943 quote from Thomas Watson of IBM that he stated there is “a world market for maybe five computers”
- the 1977 quote from Ken Olson of Digital Equipment Corp that there was “no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.”
In hindsight, of course, it’s easy to see that these statements demonstrate limited vision. But this is what many of us do when we look through the blinders of the status quo. Kawasaki shared his own worst example of that kind – of what he calls bozo thinking. He was invited to interview for the CEO position of Yahoo in its very early days. His response to the opportunity was that it was “too far to drive and he didn’t see how it can be a business.” Convinced the job would have been his, he believes that narrow thinking about the potential of the company cost him about $2 Billion had he taken on the role of CEO.
How can we expand our vision and open our minds to the world as it could become? To the potential of the new technologies that are already in existence? To the ways in which our jobs are being transformed by technology and the economy? What skills can we develop to have better future vision and develop ourselves to step into tomorrow? I believe in the importance of creating thinking time to consider opportunities before us and ahead of us so that when our own ”Yahoo opportunity” comes along, it won’t seem like too far to drive.