I’ve been thinking a lot about the many insular little worlds that exist in business and what expertise is required to excel vs. what willingness to look beyond is vital to success. There are so many nuances within industries that must be understood at a fundamental level to really get things right. Whether it’s pharma or the auto industry, apparel or publishing, knowledge of all that came before and deep relationships can be the key to winning.
Getting too comfortable with institutional knowledge, however, can be dangerous.
Over the past year and particularly in the past few months, I’ve seen an ugly side to this depth in industry. This knowledge of your niche and only your niche.
It can become so insular and self-congratulatory, so back-slappy and myopic that no real progress can be made. I’ve seen many talented teams puff up about their accomplishments with no sense of context. It is easy to be the winner in a pond of three. Easy to think you know it all when the only others you’re learning from are your equally puffed-up peers. Easy to believe you’ve “won” when the awards are handed out by those groping in the dark right along with you.
There is much to be gained in looking outward, beyond the pond.
Though I work across a dizzying range of clients in vastly different industries, I am also susceptible to niche thinking. So: I’m making it my mission these days to broaden and expand my experiences – both personal and professional – to ensure that I’m continually able to see things from a different perspective and apply that new insight in ways that elevate the known, creating something entirely new.
Over the next few months, I’ll share my “beyond the pond” experiences here. They may be wildly enlightening, they may be hardly worth your (and even my) time. Here’s to shaking things up a bit.