The experiment was simple. The scientists put a few bees and a few flies in a glass jar, and placed the jar against a window with the jar’s opening facing away from the window, to see if the bees or the flies escaped first. Their hypothesis was that the bees, having more smarts, would certainly be the first to get out. But they were wrong – the bees spent nearly all their time at the end of the bottle trying to reach the light, and they never escaped. The flies instead flew around haphazardly and all eventually escaped.
There’s a lot to be said for putting your head down and running in one direction with what you do best. That’s a strong attribute in operations. But leaders need to be constantly looking at the competitive situation and environment. A change in either one may well require innovation, a new strategy or a new competency.
You don’t have to be the first to spot a trend — being second or third is a great place to be. Apple, for example, didn’t make the first digital music listening device, nor the first smart phone. And their first tablet wasn’t at all successful. But they’ve been very good at spotting a trend and jumping on it with the best solutions. Make sure your strategy sessions have an external focus on how your industry is changing and the opportunities it presents.