Are You Thinking Big Enough?

Last week I touched on the subject of thinking big. Sure, you may not have the resources of, say, Facebook, but can’t you still enjoy the wow factor of their plan to lay fiber optic cable underwater around the entire continent of Africa?

Then I was rereading the autobiography of Robert Iger, long time CEO of Disney. (Recently retired.) He was an amazing CEO that created billions in market value for Disney shareholders. Among his lasting legacies is Disney’s theme park in Shanghai, China. It represented Disney’s most ambitious project as it took 8 years, and many billions of dollars to complete.

Every local and national political entity had to be constantly stroked, and they changed many times during the building. Disney built a wing onto a children’s hospital as one “gift” to local officials. On opening day, friends, family, and dignitaries from all over the world crowded the park.

But the one fact from the book that I just couldn’t get my head around is that Robert Iger, the CEO, the man who had unlimited resources including highly skilled managers, personally made 40 trips to China to pull off this feat.


And that’s in addition to the time he had to invest in his other theme parks, movie studios, film studios, cruise lines, retail stores, television networks, hotels and on and on.

In other words, if you think you’re busy, imagine fitting 40 trips to China in on top of all the rest you have to do.

Robert Iger thinks big!

Then there’s Steve Jobs who after being exiled from Apple, the company he had founded, returned to save them and immediately launched the advertising campaign. “Think Different!” It was a huge hit despite the fact that at the time, there were no products in the development pipeline, much less different ones! Jobs was thinking big.

Then there’s Warren Buffet who in tumultuous economic times says, “Be fearful when others are greedy; be greedy when others are fearful.” There’s a lot of fear out there right now; does that mean it’s time for you to be greedy?

I think it might.

Finally, there is one of my favorite strategic planning authors, Geoffrey Moore. In his book, “Crossing the Chasm,” he says that there are moments in the history of any business when they see opportunities to expand their niche, or move to an entirely different one.

And when they do…when they sense any momentum, they must go for it in a big way and, as Moore says, “over-invest!”

I hear from designers every week who are starting to rethink their business models, based in part on new requests customers are making. Might this lead to a new opportunity? No doubt.

So, I’ll repeat the question: Are you thinking big enough?

This is certainly the exact wrong time to withdraw.

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