What do you see?

How many legs does this elephant have?

How many issues does your business face?

I was having a conversation with a client of mine the other day and he was visited by a friend who had a successful general contracting business for many years. Unfortunately, he recently closed his doors due to the rapidly declining business climate. “I never saw it coming” was his very sad commentary. Well it has been over three years since the global financial meltdown and the worst slowdown since the great depression. Should he and we have seen that coming? Hindsight is 20/20, right? A sad reality of many small to mid-size businesses is that the owner and their key leadership often fall victim to using the same solutions to new problems. Worse, their vision of their surroundings and business climate seem to be the same until massive shifts cause major impact.

A quick glance at the elephant and you might see 4 legs. A studied look might see as many as seven.

In the end, it might not be as important to see four or seven as it is to look carefully.

In my experience, one of the great benefits to the Loyola Executive MBA program was the lack of familiarity of our industry (insurance) and certainly our business. As our company became a case study for each class, I was forced to see the company through a different lens than the one we used internally. It was, at times, painful, but in retrospect, it was incredibly valuable. Asking the right questions begins with asking lots of questions. Knowing what questions to ask began with seeing things from a different perspective. For me, it was the eyes of 20+ highly successful business leaders from outside our industry. That is a difficult environment to replicate anywhere else.