What Do Pokemon Go and Startup Teams Have In Common?

47-PokeMon-Pic#1-11JUL2016After returning home from the sensory overload of Universal Studios, Orlando, I was looking forward to an easy, quiet weekend back home in Ohio.

But, the refrigerator was empty, so it was time to hop down to our local Kroger to pick up some groceries. As I drove down the road, a group of young boys almost darted out into the road. Fortunately I saw them and they stayed on the sidewalk.

It was somewhat peculiar. They all seemed to be laughing and enjoying themselves while staring at the phones. People staring at their phones isn’t a new phenomena, so I didn’t think twice about it.

That was until I saw more groups of people roaming neighborhoods, intently marching down the sidewalks, canvassing the park, and generally balancing a focus on their phones, with a focus on their group, and a focus on the environment around them.

It seemed a bit odd, I thought to myself.

When I arrived back at home, my Snapchat feed was exploding with…Pokémon Go. What? You have not heard about Pokémon Go? I hadn’t either. But, wow! When it started to have nearly as many active users as Twitter, I took note.

While the active user numbers are quite the achievement, the thing that caught my attention were the groups of people traveling in my neighborhood. It dawned on me that they were all probably playing Pokémon Go. And, they reminded me of some startup teams.

How? A small group of people focused on their electronic devices traveling in the same general direction all focused on the same opportunity.

So, why bring this up?

One young man in the group that almost ran in front of my car looked up from his phone, looked across the intersection, and extended both arms to block the advance of his friends to prevent them from unexpectedly walking into traffic.

Isn’t that what Founding CEOs do? Isn’t it your job to stop, take a look over the horizon, and ensure the team is headed in the right direction, safely?

This is one of those subtle responsibility shifts that we learn as we transition from Founder to CEO. Yes, many of you are “heads down” wearing many hats and rarely have the time to pop your head up and check the horizon.

My hope is that as your company grows and you embrace your CEO role more, you’ll realize that there really isn’t anyone else but you who has the responsibility to gaze into the future and plan 1, 2, and 3 years out.

Your team is heads down, nose-to-the-grindstone, focusing on delivering near term results. It’s increasingly important that you increase the amount of time you spend on the future, on planning, on ensuring your team doesn’t veer into traffic.

How much time do you spend “looking up” and peering into the future?

What do you do to remind yourself of this unique responsibility that really only you have?

Share your thought below so we can all learn from your experiences.

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