On December 15th 1903 Wilbur Wright telegraphed his father and sister “Success Assured”. Mind you, that was two days before he and his brother Orville made the first successful manned, controlled, and sustained flight in a heavier than air flying machine in history—the birth of aviation.
You may ask, what bolstered Wilbur’s confidence? I’m telling you, there’s a lesson in the Wrights’ success story for every entrepreneur, business owner, and Chief Executive!
Every endeavor starts with a compelling vision, something that moves you deeply, nudging you to take a leap of faith in order to realize your dream, advancing one step at a time. Back in 1900, Wilbur Wright shared his vision in a letter to one of his contemporaries saying: “For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man.”
The Wrights were rather methodical in their approach. They were not going to risk their necks by building a full size machine and testing it by jumping off a steep hill side, cliff or building. Instead, they broke down the daunting task of discovering the secrets of flight into three manageable sections: 1) Lift 2) Control 3) Propulsion. They embraced each section with a scientific mindset as evidenced in their scale models, and taking precise measurements when working from home with a wind tunnel, and when outside on the dunes of North Carolina.
On December 15th 1903, it all came together. They had proven their Flyer produced enough lift to carry the weight of the machine and a pilot into the air; they had proven that the machine could be controlled left and right, and up and down; and they had proven the engine and propellers assembly produced enough thrust for takeoff and to sustain flight. Hence Wilbur’s assertion, Success Assured!
Years later, when asked if the first flight was their moment of greatest elation Orville answers: “Oh, neither of us felt any great elation over what we did that day. You see, we had faith in our calculations and had felt so sure we were going to fly that when we succeeded we were not surprised.”
Business is a Vehicle—Just like the Wright Flyer
As promised, using the Wright brothers as an example, here are some key take-aways for every entrepreneur, business owner, and Chief Executive:
1. Anyone afflicted with the belief that commercialization of their vision is possible, will have to develop a business system. A system is a network of component parts and their intricate connections. In other words, a system is a PURPOSE-BUILT vehicle―just like the Wright Flyer―that, so to speak, gives wings to your vision.
2. The fact that every business system is PURPOSE-BUILT implies that the purpose of that business is to realize the vision for which it was created. Hence, if you are not The United States Mint, the purpose of your business is anything but “making money”.
3. Success is a consequence of aligning the business system’s design, structure or organization, implementation or operation, maintenance, and management with the vision for which it was created—it’s raison d’être.
4. Friction, conflict, and accidents are the consequence of a discrepancy between the business system’s current state and its intended state.
5. Profit and loss are functions of leaderships’ ability to keep the system’s current state properly aligned with its intended state. Profit is the audience’s applause and loss is it’s boos.
Are You Confident to Say Success Assured?
- How well do you yourself understand the vision behind your business system—its raison d’être?
- Do all other decision makers share the same level of understanding?
- How well do you yourself understand the business as a singular, unique, integrated, and open system? What about your fellow decision makers?
- How often do you ask and conduct a root cause analysis to diagnose any misalignment between the current state and the desired state of your business?
- How do you decide on a remedial course of action to re-align the business system?
I’m here to help to assure your success!
To read more, get a copy of my book The Root Cause: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems.