Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Entrepreneurial vision and uncertainty


[eyes in glasses*]

It is said that business success requires vision. While essentially true, the statement is more complex than it appears because, as in intelligence, multiple types of vision exist. Since no single person is born with the perfect multifocal to have ideal sight in all matters, sole entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage as compared to companies or partnerships. Consequently, freelancers need to harness their special vision and take into account their blind spots.

[man with magnifying glass]

One type of practical vision is the ability to quickly and intuitively identify immediate solutions for short-term problems. People with this talent identify the essential elements and ignore distractors. Clearly, careful analysis can provide solutions but requires more time. To demonstrate, Israel television (sorry, I cannot remember which channel and which time) interviewed an engineering student at Ben Gurion University in the Negev in Beer Sheva with a special talent for solving problems. Disturbed by pigeons on his balcony, he created a raven robot with visual sensors and combined it with a small water pistol. Whenever, a pigeon landed on the balcony, it received a wet welcome. This is one of countless robotic solutions he had invented. None of them were technologically complicated but all were imaginative and out of the box. Thus, this vision involves intuitively creating effective solutions to defined problems.

[eye glasses in dark clouds]

While less positive in both point of view and appreciation, some individuals have the ability to foresee issues that will cause problems in the future. There was an episode in the program
The Twilight Zone in 1960 entitled The Purple Testament about a soldier that suddenly received the terrible ability to identify who would die in the next battle. In his case, this sixth sense was of no use even in preventing his own death but in business it is often quite important to identify and avoid negative and expensive issues in the future by applying simple means in the present. Most people find it difficult to distinguish exaggerated fears from reasonable assessments but a few truly know how to avoid minefields.

[boy with binonculars]

Finally, some people have the incredible ability to envision the future before others. In 1950, Ray Bradbury wrote the short story There will come soft rains in which the star is an automated house in which all functions are programmed, from cleaning the house to preparing food. The irony of the story is that its residents had been incinerated by a nuclear bomb and were no longer alive. More than 70 years later, this level of automation is not only practical but also already in existence. Inventors and startups depend on this ability to imagine a completely different future. Many claim to be prophets but only a few truly have the ability to see the future.

[cat with one eye]

Clearly, a special ability to focus on any of these three types of visions (or any other) involves a certain blindness in others, putting sole entrepreneurs at a disadvantage. Companies can hire as many talented personnel as their budget allows. Partnerships create synergy as in the musical partnership of Rogers and Hammerstein (Sound of Music and King and I, et al). Freelancers may have special talent in any single area but tend to be rather less skilled in others. For example, a person may be an excellent problem solver but lack any ability to even imagine what will be in five years. Thus, the lack of multifocal vision limits the potential of freelancers.

[Mr. Magoo cartoon image]

The partial solution is to recognize weaknesses, use outsiders, strive to improve and accept imperfection. The first step in solving in any problem is recognizing its existence. For example, there is no shame for a person to admit that long-term planning is not a forte. Once a person understands that there is an issue, two solutions, not exclusive to each other, are to enlist the assistance of another person either through outsourcing or community building, and work to improve the skills by reading, listening and studying experts. While maybe the skill not become  a strength, the freelancer will then be able to better decisions on those matters. Of course,  human beings always reserve the right of resignation, i.e., emotional acceptance of the inability and its consequences. If a person lacks the ability to foresee problems and is not willing to somehow overcome it for whatever reasons, the resulting waste of time, energy and money are acceptable prices, unavoidable if you will. While not ideal, this last option is the choice of many if not most people in the face of their incompetencies.

[see-no-evil kermit threesome]

Werner Heisenberg’s theory of uncertainty postulates that it is impossible to fully focus on position and speed at the same time, i.e., one certainty is at the expense of the other. Individuals may have perfect vision in one matter but often suffer from a certain degree of blindness in other matters. For companies and partnership, synergy is the solution. For freelancers, the solution is to strive to the best possible, get help if necessary and maybe accept one’s limitations. There is always a level of uncertainty in any business vision.

* Picture captions allow the blind to fully access the Internet.

All pictures via Pixabay except for the Mr. Magoo image

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