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Vision outruns the herd instinct

When e-business made its apparition there was an immediate gap between the potential of the technology and peoples’ understanding of the opportunity. When people caught on there was a gold rush and then a feeling of betrayal when the promise could not live up to expectations.

The herd instinct takes over when even the most talented and informed cannot interpret the signals. The best ideas need an enlightened visionary and a high-level sponsor. One big company in information technology was lucky enough to have a visionary.   The visionary was convinced that e-business was the future, but had to court and to convince the managing director. 

He used a prototype based on a concept from a competitor. The prototype showed how that competitor was using the big company’s data for its own e-business initiatives. Many people in the big company had assumed that this was simply a legal issue.  To get to the managing director, he had to climb the company rank by rank, office by office, persenting and prefecting the demo, the proof of concept. 

One day he sat in the managing director's office.  This man had the challenge of saving the company from its past. The managing director listened intently to the presentation and then asked just one question: “Where’s the ‘buy’ button?”  It was all the visionary wanted to hear. This big company is now a world leader and a pioneer in e-business.

It's not always easy to be the top man. During the dot.com boom and bubble, of 1999, an entrepreneur ran a 30 people start-up in enterprise resource management. Because the system was not Internet-based, and his staff 'knew' he just didn't "get it".  And every day the economy shifted, and every day the manager did nothing. "This boss doesn't know what he's doing."  He couldn't explain his unfashionable reasoning, he couldn't get his team to listen.  Then the bubble burst. Well, the boss was right all along.  Just wait for the next bubble! 


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