Think Differently – Scale Lessons from the Wright Brothers
By Presidential Proclamation, December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, celebrating the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.
There are so many lessons to learn from the Wright Brothers, but I want to focus on one: thinking differently.
Back in 1903 the race was on all around the world to invent the first plane that could fly, with most people becoming obsessed with the engine. They were completely ignoring the aerodynamics and the wings and started building larger engines with more and more horsepower and strapping them to planes.
This resulted in some of the most powerful, and fancy engines the world had ever seen. But it also resulted in planes too heavy to ever get off the ground!
The Wright Brothers took a different approach. Whilst everyone else was obsessing on the engines, they obsessed with the plane and its aerodynamics. They focussed on a plane that could glide without an engine, then they strapped an ordinary engine to it. And the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane was invented!
Now I want you to pause for a moment and let this next point really sink in because it’s a big one:
Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?
The great thing about being in business is the fact that you get the opportunity to play your own game.
Yet, it’s our experience that most businesses play not to lose, rather than playing to win, obsessing on the same stuff that everyone else in their marketplace is obsessing on. And when you play not to lose, you end up not committing a hundred percent. But when you play to win, you give yourself the best opportunity.
This week I urge you to allocate 90 minutes to answer these five key questions that will help you think differently, because if you don’t try and win and plan to win, your chances of accidentally doing so are very, very, very small:
- What Is Your Winning Aspiration?
- What & Where Are You Going to Play?
- How Will You Win?
- Do You Have the Capabilities?
- What Systems Do You Need?
And if you’ve not already done so, I recommend you reading (or re-reading) Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business, which explains why the old way of strategy is dead, and shows you how to educate your people in the rules of business, rallies them around a common goal, and empowers and engages them – all to give your business the best chance at winning.