Has It Become Impossible To Know Where The Puck Is Going To Be?

December 18, 2012 3:53 pm

Startup founders need to be like Wayne Gretzky’s ‘great’ hockey player:

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” (Source)

But here is the issue – the pace of changes in the variables around us has made it virtually impossible to know where the puck is going to be. Here are a few examples of great minds giving us confusing messages:

Larry Ellison says that Consumer IT has become bigger than Enterprise IT but many Startup folks are advising us to build products for the enterprise. James Altucher says “If you are offering a service, call it a product” – Mark Suster says “Trying to turn a successful services business into a product business is getting the cart before the horse.”. Here is another example of such confused messaging.

What exactly is happening? Our understanding is this: the number of variables that you need to track to know where the puck is going to be – devices, platforms, usage pattern changes, lifestyle changes, bandwidth costs, enabling technologies etc … has grown beyond human capabilities to ‘keep in our heads’ and project the future. Simply put, it has become impossible to know where the puck is going to be.

So what do we do? Do we just become good hockey players and play where the puck is, instead of trying to be a great hockey player and play where the puck is going to be? There are many examples of this happening today – just look around.

But before we decide that we cannot be great hockey players, we need to ask ourselves – Why Not? Predicting where the puck is going to be – isn’t that the whole point?

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