Finding Opportunities to Flourish

The Wall Street Journal reports that honeybees continue to die at increasing rates (Tennelle Tracy, 14 May 2015, p.A3). Let's juxtapose this against a story in The Economist  (9 May 2015, p.30) about Bolivia's loss of 250 miles of Pacific Ocean coastland in 1904. Now let's ask what these two stories on different continents hold in common. Both represent overwhelming problems, but problems that are not within our current line of sight. Bee deaths have stumped scientists so far and pose a grave threat that will affect everyone. Unless we are beekeepers, however, or the price of pollinated products or honey rises out of our reach, we don't perceive it. Bolivians suffer the most from lack of a coastline because it costs more to ship to an already poor country that can't purchase nearly as many goods as, say, Brazilians can. Unless we are trying to export to Bolivia or actually reside there, we can't feel the constriction.

These stories share one more item in common, something entrepreneurs can see if they choose to look. Both present opportunity--opportunity that can foster flourishing for humans and all that God created.

Let's start with Bolivia. An entrepreneur likely can't persuade Chile to give some coastline back. Yet, with the advent of 3D printing, some of what has to be shipped by boat, and then by train and truck, could now be produced on demand and on site, driving cost way down. Sniff the wind and you can smell possibility.

Honeybees pose a different sort of problem that point to other types of possibility. Steve Forbes editorializes on what and what should not be alarming about honeybee deaths, essentially reminding us that doing nothing and protesting that something should be done are basically the same ineffective response. Neither reduces cost, increases production, inoculates bees against predatory mites, or lengthens a Queen's egg-laying life. Someone committed to problem solving -- perhaps a partnership by an entrepreneuring company in combination with a research university and ready-to-adapt beekeepers is going to find a way--something disruptive or innovative. Possibilities abound for those in a position to find and act upon them.

Many of the businesses represented by readers of this blog came into existence because someone sniffed out a possibility and acted. All too often those entrepreneurial chapters fade into the background as successors try to ride on the rails the founders laid down. Only so much more good can be done by tweaking and upgrading. Only a little more margin can be eked out. Only so much more transformation can be nudged into being.  What is needed is continued pioneering, continued possibility sniffing.

Sure, it has to be done in sustainable ways, without breaking the companies whose cash flow margins make it possible to pursue a concept toward a new profit-bearing enterprise. But that is not an excuse to stop dreaming, nor to do nothing.

And that is the bigger problem -- the company whose CEO, board and senior managers do not have the time and space to explore the possibilities.