Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be objective

“Be Objective” is a way of thinking any business leader should have installed on their biological hard-drive. Leaders cannot let their own prejudice get in the way of making the right decision. Let me give you a famous example of personal prejudice getting in the way.

Thomas Edison is known as many things to many people – an inventor, a scientist, a businessman and in this case an enemy. I want to talk about the War of Currents he so famously lost. It all begins when Nikola Tesla invented AC current while working for Edison. Thomas Edison dismissed it for the ramblings of a mad-man supporting what he thought was much superior – his own invention DC current. Had Edison been objective he would of recognized the potential of AC and made millions partnering with Tesla – instead he made an enemy out of him. Edison wasted millions of dollars publicly slandering AC and in order to showcase it’s deadliness he commissioned employees to invent the electric chair. Edison took extreme measures to try and fight an enemy he never should of had.


Small businesses need to be objective or they risk being mediocre. Everyday you need to ask yourself what are my competitors doing that I can learn from? What am I doing that I can do differently? What is not really working? Sometimes you’ll find the best answer is changing the entire way you do business – if your selling mexican food and pizza in your restaurant – recognize that it will better for the business to specialize. 

Be objective and you run the risk of being great. Choose not to be objective and you’ll surely flounder.


Jun said...

Ah, the well-known War of Currents. I think two factors also played important parts in Edison's farce. First, Tesla was a very anti-social geek, much like (or worse than) Edison himself, so Edison had enough personal reasons to dis his ideas. Second, probably he could not help thinking about the sunk cost - the helluva amount of money he already spent on the DC facilities. Nice posting, Kyle.

Kyle said...

Your absolutely right in there were other factors that went into his decision. Edison was a smart man and I think you nailed it, that the existing cost of DC was likely a major factor.

I can't help but think had he thought about it a little more clearly and objectively he would of completely monopolized the energy industry in his time.