“We explore because we are human and we long to know”. Stephen Hawking’s reaction to the news that the New Horizons space probe has successfully reached the dwarf planet Pluto this week demonstrates a truth about humankind at our best.
We are searchers – questers for answers. But in business we inhabit a world where everyone wants instant answers. So it is sobering to learn from the vision of great leaders and the patience of the scientists who pursue those visions. Pluto, discovered in 1930 and named after the Roman God of the Underworld, marks the completion of “the initial reconnaissance of the solar system – an endeavour started under President Kennedy” said Alan Stern, the expedition’s lead scientist. It is the culmination of a vision articulated 55 years ago and patiently enacted ever since. How many businesses operate with that scale of ambition and tenacity of intent?
It is always good to take the long view – to seek out new horizons rather than myopically focusing only on what we can see right now or perhaps a month or two hence.
I am reminded of this because, coincidentally, a week before Pluto revealed her secrets to a wondering world, Caffeine ran a workshop for one of our clients to help them, as an organization, look 100 years into the future. This kind of timescale forces you to think about what forces are going to shape our world and what businesses will have to do in order to not just maintain relevance but to thrive. Too many business models are focused only on the next quarter’s trading figures, the next client project, or tomorrow’s to do list. As business people – as human beings – it is our duty to raise our heads and look far out, look beyond, to try and envision the future. Not because we will always get it right or because we will be able to monetise it; but because that is what is interesting about business, as in life. And because, as Professor Hawking so rightly said, it is what makes us human.