Looking at the likes of Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie and J.P.Morgan etc. ingenious titans of industry in the 19th/20th/21st century with huge successes in business you see three ways of operating that underline their achievements. looking at opportunities, resourcefulness and Creativity, today we will address how it can affect our own, modern, digital businesses as it did theirs and how we can focus these attributes to improve our own trade and businesses.
It is often only after something happened that we look back and think ‘I wish I’d done this or that and taken advantage of such an opportunity’. In reality spotting opportunities isn’t a conscious act, it comes from practice and only with experience do we even realise these opportunities were staring us right in the face. By immersing yourself in projects and practicing the art of spotting potential solutions to problems do we acquire the ability to do this subconsciously. A way to practice this is to go to forums and find someone with an issue, try and work out how to fix that issue and you will find a solution. Listening out for problems to solve is what its all about and providing a solution is the key to opportunity. By servicing the solution just as it is needed do we take advantage of opportunity, an example of this is Richard Branson’s first business: When his girlfriend was pregnant he realised there wasn’t enough support, so he set up a centre to help pregnant women and a business was born.
Another example of finding opportunity, although seeming much more intellectual is how Elon Musk drew up his vision of humanity and its problems in hundreds of years, while still in college. He simply then ticked off boxes as if he had come back in time from the future. (Admittedly this is difficult) but lets say you were to go back in time to 1960, imagine what you could invent or build! Microwaves, The internet etc. Now asking yourself what will be invented in ten years, basically doing it in reverse as Musk did, and you start designing the future! Even if you start small and plan your own life over the next two years you’ll start creating your own opportunities.
Being resourceful is as much about being realistic. You must look realistically at what your skillset is, your skill set is a resource. Now this may sound obvious but has tripped me up a couple of times. If you read a lot of self help stuff online its easy to start thinking you alone can conquer the universe and so, you inflate your abilities to compensate for a lack of success. Eventually you’ll get what you were looking for (because your feeling awesome) and find your out of your depth without the correct resources. To solve this you must figure out what you can do and what you can’t. Their is no shame in being hopeless at a lot of things as with correct resourcefulness you can either: take a course and pick up a skill e.g. webdesigning, or find someone to do it for you. Finding people who can do things for you is the bedrock of team building.
Another aspect of being resourceful is efficiency. the more efficient you are the more resources you have available at your disposal – see accounting. Accountancy is making your money more resourceful.
Creativity is about coming up with a unique spin that gives your product something nobody else has. Its a USP (unique selling point) but no idea is ever completely original. If you want to come up with a new idea then you must look at the technology available and improve it or apply it differently. Steve jobs didn’t invent the computer but he altered it so it was easier for normal people to use. Andrew Carnegie didn’t invent steel, but he applied it to the new railroads crossing America. Henry Ford didn’t invent the motorcar but made building it more efficient through the production line (a system the royal navy had been using to create pulley’s since the 18th century).
This brings us to cross contamination. A way to improve on a technology which many geniuses us is through ‘cross contamination’. This is when you look at one industry and see how it’s doing things and then apply it to another. An example (and as a motorsport nerd) is Colin Chapman who founded the Lotus car company. He looked at how aerospace used wings to push planes up or down and applied it to his formula 1 cars to keep them on the ground. A ingenious move that brought aerodynamics, and in particularly down-force to top flight motorsport rendering him a massive success. During the renaissance the likes of Michelangelo and Da Vinci prospered from cross contamination as discussed here where we look at how many different types of creative people working on different things cross contaminated to the betterment of business, science and humanities.
You can apply this by looking around at different industries too, for example: Look at how furniture companies design their webpages and see if anything can be applied to your SEO blog next time you’re searching for a chair, see how burger king putting there burgers together can improve the efficiency of your team etc. You get the idea. Soon enough you’ll be doing this instinctively and with the resourcefulness and opportunities practiced above you too could improve the way you operate as Branson, Musk, Carnegie, or anyone in the top flight do.
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