Why Moses Is the Best Real Estate Developer Ever
How insight leads to corporate vision, and how leadership makes the vision real
Visionaries are not mystics. They are merely men and women who have an insight that they communicate well. You too may be a visionary in the making.
But being a visionary never starts with a vision. It begins more humbly, with a simple observation. The old joke says that great discoveries are not launched with shouts of “Eureka!” but with a scientist muttering, “Well, that’s odd.” Likewise, your business vision begins when you ask “Why are people doing what they do?” This is the core of any business concept.
One definition of “insight” is “a deep understanding of a person or thing.” Many entrepreneurs launch their products and their companies after they have been involved in an industry for some time and see defects within it. A product idea arises because the entrepreneur sees people struggling, notes inefficiencies and detects a trend in demand. There is often an “Ah ha!” moment only when the inequities within a market show where a product or service could solve the problem.
This is entrepreneurial insight -- the ability to grasp needs and devise solutions. But this is just an idea, and ideas by themselves are worth little. For such insights to become products, and products with market demand, many people have to understand the value. It requires transforming what is in the entrepreneur’s insight into something else.
Take the Old Testament story of the Promised Land. Getting an entire population to relocate to an unknown environment requires them to see a common value. Thus, the Promised Land was also described as The Land of Milk and Honey. These commodities were well understood by the masses, and thus the abstract insight (a hunk of land where we move to) was made visual and desirable (milk and honey).
This is where insight is turned into vision. Again, a visionary is a mere mortal with an insight they communicate well. Moses inherited the Promised Land insight, and made it a shared vision for the Israelites. Without his communicating this vision, they might well have stayed in Egypt.
Steve Jobs was no Moses, but he was a visionary. He saw what other people were doing with computer graphics and controls, and also saw how reducing the entire computing experience to graphics simplified computing from the user’s perspective. These were just insights. But Jobs knew how to communicate his vision and make Apple and the world embrace the approach.
Founders, especially technology founders, often struggle with this. The vision may be perfectly clear to them, but they fail to articulate it, to make it vivid to their employees, vendors or customers. A lack of communicated and expressive vision means that nobody else will be excited by the product. Employees won’t work to create and glorify the vision, and customers won’t beat down the doors to buy it.
Leadership is primarily an act of communication. Great generals wade into battle with their soldiers, in part, to communicate confidence in victory. Great politicians link their promises to perennial ideals like apple pie and the flag. Any good salesman makes a product's features and benefits personal, and thus easily understood.
Once you have your product idea locked into your mind, spend a lot of time trying to tell its story. Like any good tale, try to write it large, to make it mentally visual, to make it as exciting as it is understandable. Sell your idea with verbal visuals, much like Moses did. Get people to think your vision is an invitation to a party they would hate to miss, as Jobs did with the Macintosh. Then test your story and refine as necessary. If you communicate your vision well, you will see the expressions people wear change. You will see them having their own “Ah Ha!” moment.
You will then be a visionary.