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  • Writer's pictureEileen Licitra

20/20 Vision or Peripheral Vision?

Updated: May 16, 2022

Leaders talk about vision: vision to build a company from scratch to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Vision to create a new product that wows customers and outpaces the competition. Vision to create a new category and disrupt an industry.

Most people consider 20/20 vision “perfect vision.” It’s actually “normal” vision. According to the American Optometric Association, 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.

There are other important vision measurements, such as peripheral awareness, side vision, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision, which contribute to overall visual ability.

Peripheral vision helps you view objects and scenes that lie outside of the central vision.

So, what does optometry have to do with vision and strategy?

Well, nothing, but let’s stick with the metaphor for a moment.

When a leader has vision, she is said to be laser-focused on reaching a long-term goal, often with a specific strategy. He is described as relentless in pursuit of a future state and lets nothing get in the way.

But sometimes we may flounder in pursuit of our vision. This happens when we fail to pay attention to what’s happening around us, on the sidelines: market shifts, competitive threats, and changes in customer buying behavior. In other words, lack of peripheral vision.

Markets are dynamic. Strategies should be as well. You can still pursue your vision while being agile, using your metaphorical peripheral vision.

Some ways to build or maintain peripheral vision:

  • Avoid the phrase “this is how the industry always worked.” Yes, it did, until it didn’t anymore. Keep your finger on the pulse of the market and monitor changes that may impact your strategy.

  • Ensure customers and prospects are part of your advisory team, even informally if you don’t have an established customer advisory board. Customers and prospects experience the market in ways you don’t.

  • Seek out different industry perspectives. Follow industry experts on social media and on podcasts. Reach out to people in your network who think differently than you and will provide candid feedback. And always challenge your own assumptions and the status quo.

  • Don’t become overly focused on one thing within your peripheral view at the expense of other, perhaps more important, things. For example, I often see companies focus on their competitors' tactics without knowing whether those tactics are successful. And even if they are, be unique in your vision and the value you want to deliver to customers. If you must copy your competitors you haven’t really developed your own vision.

So, what is perfect vision? Using 20/20 vision to see where you want to be in the future and relying on peripheral vision to help get you there. It’s all about putting the right elements into focus.


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