Doppler Effect and Razor Sharp Focus



People who know me from school know that I never liked Physics, maybe because I used to be single minded back then and I was only interested in anything that was had to do with (succeeding in) business. Without stating the obvious, I would like to admit how wrong I was, as it is very clear to me now that the laws of Physics and similar sciences, can provide amazing insights if applied to business problems. (which probably explains why engineers make good MBA candidates)

The Doppler effect is a great example. Named after Christian Doppler, “it is the change in frequency and wavelength of a wave for an observer moving relative to the source of the waves”

In layman’s terms (for those of us who are still not big funs of Physics): You are driving a car and there is a motorcycle ahead of you. The noise from the exhaust will not really change if your distance from the motorcycle remains the same. At the same time another motorcycle is coming from the opposite direction. As it is approaching you, the noise becomes louder and sharper, like it’s accelerating. (you get more frequent waves from the motorcycle because its moving towards you). As the motorcycle passes you and starts moving to the other direction the noise becomes softer and flatter (you get less frequent waves because the source is moving away from you).

Business Analogy: You have clearly defined your competition and your long term strategy and you are determined to stay focused and execute in line with this mission. In essence, you are “following a motorcycle”. As a result, the “noise” that is coming from this target is probably not changing as you are adjusting your speed and your actions to stay on course.

Suddenly, another “motorcycle” appears, moving to the opposite direction and approaching you fast. The closer it comes to your radar, the more alarming it sounds and you are now tempted to spend more time analyzing this new source of noise. At some point the noise is so loud that you paralyze and you start questioning your initial strategy. Maybe you even make a u-turn and start following the new motorcycle.

If you could just wait for a little longer you would realize that the motorcycle was indeed heading somewhere else. False alarm, but the damage is done.

As we all know, staying focused on what we do is not easy. There are many distractions from the environment and it is really hard to filter out all the “noise” from the messages that are really important to our business. Razor sharp focus is difficult but it can really make all the difference when it comes to success in businesses and careers. It’s about knowing your objectives and staying on course.

This is a lot different from being rigid and shutting your eyes to the outside word. It just means that you are only focusing on the things that matter avoiding distractions and sirens along the way.