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Leaders. Get your head in the clouds

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The big picture doesn't cut it any more. It's the friggin HUGE picture that matters now.

Remember that famous analogy of the rocks, pebbles and sand that Dr Stephen Covey made famous? (If you've been living under a rock - pun intended - thencheck out this video from FranklinCovey). Well in the 90's and early 2000's that was a great way to plan, execute and manage your time.

But today in 2016 it's simply not going to cut it.

As suggested by Gary Vaynerchuk, today you need to act more like a futurist and have your head in the clouds and far ahead on the horizon as well as still keep your feet in the sand (Gary says the dirt but I prefer the beach) at the granular level.

Today the companies and leaders who succeed have learned to reach up high and tap down low, to think 30 years ahead and to execute and innovate in the now. Think like Apple and Tesla.  

Think about your own industry for a moment. Where do you see it heading in 30 years time? Will it still exist? Will it have been replaced by robots and artificial intelligence? What technology will be needed to support the people driving change?

And what can you do about that now? How can you begin to be more like sand in the surf, being flexible and nimble, light and able to shift and move with the current. Or are you still focused on the rocks, stuck, stagnant and unable to adapt and adopt? Is there a massive ship about to crash into your rock and because you weren't checking the view from the lighthouse in the clouds, and now you're unable to adjust course and move your business left or right, up or down?

VISION is worthless without EXECUTION

and 

EXECUTION is pointless without VISION.

You not only have to know your craft intimately (your sand) but also understand where your business and industry is heading (your clouds). If you stick with the rocks you'll be average and get average results. You have to start reaching up and tapping down rather than spreading out. Gone are the industrial age days of growth for growth sake. Bigger larger plant sizes, more staff, bigger contracts, even when the margins were getting smaller and smaller and profits less and less we saw big companies still aiming for lateral growth, taking up space, wasting energy on their middle aged spread.

Tomorrow's successful businesses will be vastly different they'll be grounded, long, lean and wiry, reaching, reaching, reaching for the clouds. They'l be architects and masons. Grounded yet unsettled. Think Uber, Air BNB and Alibaba.

Those companies stuck in the middle bland land will get lost in the sea of sameness, stuck with massive overheads, large volumes of wasted stock, with buildings, land and machinery of little worth. They'll have large footprints that take up a lot of space and have massive environmental impacts. They'll play it safe when safe is no longer a valid strategy.

If you're thinking 1-3 years in the future, you're leaving yourself and your company vulnerable and exposed. If you're spending three days at a leadership retreat planning your three year strategic plan and then reporting blindly for the next three years against that plan then you're essentially dead in the water. 

You need to forget the big picture and aim for the HUGE picture. You need to think where do we need to be in 2050 not in 2017. All the best leaders and companies now are bringing in futurists to consider 10, 20, 30 years into the future and then executing in three day, three week and three monthly cycles. 

Remember just five short years ago Netflix weren't streaming movies, and Snapchat and Instagram didn't exist. Where did they come from? The clouds.

You can't go for incremental improvement any more, you need to evolve. Start losing yourself in the clouds and then getting gritty in the sand. That way you're more likely to create something remarkable, something epic that will change the game.

Leaders you have to be the brains but you have to get your hands dirty too. Stop stressing so much about the dumb little sh*% and start playing the bigger game. Most of our daily grind is just a result of not having clarity about the huge picture 30 years out. Once you have that kind of huge clarity, everything falls into perspective.

Build an epic vision and a huge why, solve a future global problem, then build and create all the time listening to the market as you course correct, adjust and improvise every day. Oh yeah and remember to keep your eye on the clouds!

If you want to read more about this topic see my recent presentation for the April meetings of Higher Power Leaders Network here on Slideshare.



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