business grand prix — broad knowledge

Aerodynamics, thermodynamics, physics… Just a few of the skills racers have to master. The better they understand them, the easier it is to tweak their vehicles, together with the engineers, all in an attempt to be the first to cross the checkered flag.

Business leaders have to understand a wide variety of skills as well. Product, marketing, sales, accounting… The list goes on.

The goal isn’t to become an expert in all of these fields individually. The goal is to have an understanding that allows other experts to do their job as well as they can.

Suppose the entrepreneur doesn’t know anything at all about accounting. The entrepreneur then has to rely entirely on other people’s advice. Given that the entrepreneur has no mechanism to judge the authenticity of the advice, there is a substantial risk involved.

unexpected expert

Expertise is sometimes disguised. For instance, I open bananas upside down. I once saw a monkey on National Geographic opening up a banana like that. I figured the monkey could be considered somewhat of an expert on the matter. As it turns out, it’s easier, and it also allows for a check as to whether or not a spider laid eggs in the bottom part of the banana.

Humanity shows a keen interest in leadership. What makes a great leader? Can leadership be taught? Drawing inspiration from certain insects, computer scientists today can use a so-called ant colony optimization algorithm.

Biomimicry inspired locomotion. It helped us build high-speed trains, among many other things. For example, the aerodynamic design of the Japanese Shinkansen 500 mimics the beak of the kingfisher bird.

Inspiration often comes from an unexpected place. Expertise isn’t always replicating another human’s behavior. Humility can help us draw inspiration, outside of humanity.