Each March we head to the beach to kick start spring and get away from the last vestiges of Pittsburgh’s winter.  One of my favorite activities is to walk the beach at dawn and watch the sunrise.  I am usually the only early riser in the house and this means mostly walking in solitude and watching my surroundings.  In addition to the amazing sunrises, I often get to see nature come alive for the new day.  I have long been fascinated with pelicans and this morning while watching them I saw them in a new light.  When pelicans fish, they will fly up high and glide around, circling and watch the water.  When they see pray, they abruptly turn and dive head first into the water.  After a brief period under water, they reappear and seem to do one of two things; gulp down their meal, or float there and contemplate their miss.  After a few moments, they take to flight again and start the process all over.

Today, this struck me as similar to how successful business leaders manage their goals and initiatives.  The concept is zoom out then zoom in.  It was first brought to my attention by Jim Collins in his best seller Great By Choice.  He talks about when in the strategic planning process, it is important to zoom out to be able to see the entire landscape.  Once a plan is established to zoom in, commit, and focus all energy on the task.  Once complete, a short period of a.) celebration (eat the fish) on a successful outcome, or b.) reflection on a failure before zooming back out and strategically pick the next activity.

All too often I witness business people who stay down in the weeds and their activities are dictated by reactive forces or by bright shiny objects.  By zooming out and seeing the big picture the most important strategic activities can be seen and allow for focus on the highest and best use of resources.

Next time at the beach, be sure to watch the pelicans, it is a spectacular sight to see.