What it is vs. What it means PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 08 September 2008 00:00
The ability to discern the distinction between these two concepts determines careers, and is often a key differentiator between those who become employees and those who chose to be entrepreneurs. Those who can only focus on what things are can often find themselves working on things at the behest of others or going down blind alleys. Conversely those who only focus on what things mean risk missing the immediate issues that can trip up timely execution. To be successful, one must be able to switch between these two ways of thinking to ensure that the right choices are made and that they are executed in a timely fashion.

What it is

This is where most technologists start. Ask them why what their working on is important, they’ll tell you about the technical benefits of how their process / gadget out performs the competition. This approach limits the capacity to understand where something might be useful beyond an obvious pure displacement play. “Customers who would have bought product X will now surely buy our product Y”. Thus while this focus on performance does enable measurable improvements to be made, it sometimes does so at the expense of optimizing something that the users weren’t asking to be fixed.

What it Means

Entrepreneurs will look at something new and then try to discern how it could affect the lives of potential users. They will look not so much at how the thing works, but what it enables the users to do. One example was Henry Ford’s decision to make the automobile cheap enough for the people who made them to buy one for themselves. This decision ultimately led to the rise of suburbs and with them the shopping mall. Another example is the way Nokia focused on the User Interface and not the radio circuitry for mobile phone. This decision changed what was originally a business tool into a social tool and fashion accessory and started us on the path towards Apple’s iPhone

Bringing the two together

The most successful Entrepreneurs are able alternate between these two ways of viewing the world, you’ll hear people remark that they can span both the minutia and the big picture simultaneously. This ability can be learned to learned to some extent, but most people do have a preference for one way of viewing the world over another. Thus you’ll also find that successful entrepreneurs hunt in packs where there are spread of preferences where some people have a strength at seeing what things mean and others have a strength at being able to focus on what things are. Thus, the lesson here is simple to be truly successful, work out what your preference is and find people that have the complement to your view of the world and you can get on with.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 18:52