Positive-Sum Leadership

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

by Kent AitkenRSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Kent Aitkentwitter / kentdaitkengovloop / KentAitken

I love this:

That's the concept art for a hypothetical public transit system described in a blog post by Elon Musk, Chairman of Tesla Motors.

The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn’t a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure.
Musk, described in one Wikipedia article as a "Serial Entrepreneur", essentially invented a mode of transport in his head, explored the technological assumptions, and explained how to do it. Then, he dropped the mic and left it for someone else, saying that he was too busy.

The idea of a Hyperloop is awesome on its own. But it's far more interesting for the philosophy behind the fact that he wrote about it, but didn't do it:
  • Even if you're good at what you do, don't run with every good idea. There may be others better positioned to do it, or there may be more important goals for you to pursue.
  • It's worth sharing your ideas. Take the time because it's low-risk and high-reward, even if that reward doesn't necessarily accrue to you. Do it just in case something amazing happens.
  • In a market economy world that many see as a zero-sum game - in which people win only when others lose - you can be the one that takes the first step, the leader that makes a small sacrifice to try to redefine the world as win-win. As a positive-sum game, in which we can make something greater than the sum of our parts.
Be deliberate about your goals, err on oversharing, and look for the win-win. And you’ll lose nothing in the long run.