Step in, step back.

In 1960 Theodore Levitt wrote “Marketing Myopia.”
A seminal paper on the nature, and perils, of strategic vision.
Levitt posited that railroad executives should have stepped back.
And looked at themselves differently.
As being in the transportation business.
Rather than the railroad business.
And then they would have continued to grow.
Ergo the compelling, “What business are you really in?”
It’s such a powerful question.
Intended to shift one’s focus.
From the inside.
What an individual or organization does (railroads).
To the outside.
What customers actually desire (transportation).
But here’s the dilemma.
If you don’t focus intently, you’re dead.
Monomaniacs on a mission will step in with increasing relevance and value.
If you focus too closely and unwaveringly, you’re dead.
The entrepreneurial spirited will step back.
And outmaneuver you with innovative offerings.
So what’s a leader to do?
Be like great artists.
Don’t paint by numbers.
Create a bold and daring composition.
Don’t simply step in and color what’s been handed to you.
Step back from the canvas and get a new perspective on your work.
A highly visceral and brutally honest one.
Step in and paint with passion and precision.
But then stop, step back, and look at it again.
From your audience’s changing point of view.

Tom Asacker