Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

Are you a driver or a passenger? It seems a lot of the things I’ve been reading and observing lately are related to this question. I’ll give you a few examples of what I’m talking about.

At a seminar I attended last summer, the presenter had the audience watch a video and afterwards tested us on what we saw in the video. While the group focused on the main subject of the video, a person in a monkey suit walked past in the background. When the presenter asked what significant things we saw in the video, almost no one remembered seeing the monkey. As a driver, you need to be focused on the task at hand, but also need to be aware of what’s going on around you.

To support one of my hobbies, I subscribe to many aviation publications that come at least once per month, and in many of the publications there are summaries of accident reports. I read these religiously, because in this case, I would rather learn from the mistakes of others, than learn from my own. In one case, an airplane with two pilots crashed when a warning indicator light came on and in an attempt to troubleshoot the problem, both pilots focused on finding the source of the failure, and neither pilot remembered to fly the airplane. The result wasn’t pretty.

Here’s one we all see every day: someone “driving” down the road while talking on the phone, sending a text message, eating, or you name it. They clearly are not aware of what’s happening around them because they don’t maintain constant speed, they wander about in their lane, don’t go forward when the light turns green, or any number of other obvious non-driver acts. I argue that many of these people are passengers in a car with no driver.

Here’s one last example that hits close to home: my mom once told me that when she and her friend travel together, one person is behind the wheel and the other is driving. I’m not sure what to think of that one.

My point to all this is, that when running your business (driving), and while focusing on the task at hand, don’t forget to pay attention to your peripheral vision. You might regrettably find that the task you’re focused on is being handled very well, while the business is crashing around you.

- Ken Hilton, President