This Is What Business Leaders Must Do (Part 2)

Daniel Burrus
4 min readOct 31, 2019

Now that I’ve revealed what business leaders must know in order to become the disruptor instead of the disrupted, the next step is applying those principles. I discussed previously the need to solve problems before they occur; however, what happens when you do uncover a problem?

Whatever it is, you have to take that problem and skip it, because that problem is not really your problem. The key to unraveling your organization’s most intractable problems often lies in recognizing that the problem confronting you is not the real problem, just what you think the problem is.

Consider Elon Musk and Tesla. During the company’s inception, Musk funneled millions of his own money into Tesla to jump-start manufacturing. When creation, testing, and everything was moving slower than expected while pre-orders for a Roadster stacked up, he had to funnel even more of his money into the company, nearly bankrupting himself. Tesla wasn’t just facing one big problem; their problem was multiple problems! Batteries would overheat and burn, cars would fail safety testing; you name it, it happened.

However, Musk and the Tesla team decided to skip those problems, realizing their real challenge was bringing fully electric cars to market. So employees focused on making sure the vehicles ran safely and got them to market, later debuting sedan models in addition to sports cars to make the very concept of electric vehicles appealing to the masses.

Like Tesla, if you look at your problem from different angles, you may well find that it is not your true problem, and rather than trying to solve it, you fare better by skipping it entirely.

Go opposite (Follow the path less traveled)

When searching for the real problem you want to address, it’s not always easy to know where to look. A great way to harness your anticipatory abilities is to note where everyone else is looking and then look in the opposite direction. Uber looked at how traditional taxi cab companies operated, where individuals ride in vehicles and have to stress about how to split the cab fare with friends or worry if their cab driver took them on a joy ride in an unfamiliar area to increase the final bill.

Daniel Burrus

#1 Bestselling Author, Global Futurist, Innovation Expert and Keynote Speaker. One of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Innovation.