When working in technology, you cannot avoid the question of ‘what comes next’ –what is the next big thing that will shake up the industry and how can you make sure you stay ahead of, or even better lead, the changes. From James Watt who improved the steam engine to Steve Jobs who changed the way we see computing (and mobile phones) forever, visionaries have never stopped to push the boundaries of what is possible. Ultimately, going a step further and identifying the changing dynamics that shape the business and tech landscape is what differentiates success from failure.
Speed will always be Key
It is no secret that today the pace of change is higher than ever and is only set to increase. A great and innovative idea risks becoming ‘yesterday’s news’ in the blink of an eye. Does that mean that all visions are doomed to end up forgotten in the back of a drawer? Certainly not. To be a visionary means not just creating bigger and bolder ideas but also bringing them to fruition faster. The world never lacked great ideas, on the contrary, innovative and even radical ideas have always been in abundance. Consider the case of Yahoo! which was once upon a time a key player in the Internet world. Despite leading the digital revolution back in the day, it was exactly because of how fast that revolution moved on to the next phases and Yahoo!’s inability to adapt to it that meant it was no longer leading but following its competitors. What is needed is to find the right balance between brainstorming big ideas and creating a plan of action.
Execution is your secret to success
In many ways, we are all visionaries. We are all creative in our own ways and think of ideas that could potentially change (our) lives. The successful execution of these ideas is what actually makes a difference. The visionary is a strategist that creates a roadmap for bringing ideas to life and most importantly to market.
To do so, the visionary thinks and acts across timescales, learning yesterday’s lessons, acting today and planning for tomorrow. You can never be sure that your neighbour is not developing the next Uber or Deliveroo in their garage. Instead of being afraid of competition, visionaries embrace it and make it part of their strategy. To do that, make sure your vision is adaptive and flexible enough when it comes to both the immediate steps and longer-term plans.
Test, test, test
A key aspect of execution is testing the vision and evaluating its weak points and its overall success potential. Assessing how operational your project is, can save you time, money and creative energy.
For the experiment to succeed, a series of small tests are needed to prove its validity. Based on the results, you can either validate the direction of the project or quickly course-correct as early as possible. Creation is a journey that is far from straightforward. It takes time, effort and many attempts to develop the ‘next killer app’ so don’t be afraid to explore a number of different paths and change direction if needed.
Choose your team carefully
We often think that visionaries, like leaders, are sitting lonely at the top. This is not necessarily true. Visionaries rely on their teams as much as they rely on their own creativity. A visionary does not simply choose the best talent but leads teams to success. Nurturing a culture of collaboration and the sense of a common purpose can work as a key differentiator that will help teams rise above the crowd. Their task is to once again strike the right balance between maintaining control and empowering their employees and broader ecosystem to take initiative, use their own creativity and drive the vision.
This also requires leading by example and instilling a different mindset in the workforce, no matter if that comprises 5 or 500 people. Everyone needs to overcome their fears and be motivated to be a lot more open and prepared for change.
Being a visionary was never easy, let alone in today’s fiercely competitive tech world. But to be one means being able to turn things on their head. Competition and constant challenging are in fact your best friends that will push you to outdo yourself and keep your creativity alive and kicking. The tech world will never cease to need as much inspiration and thirst for discovery as it can get. So this is your time to shine.