The other night I was flipping through the channels and ended up catching part of the History Channel’s story on Chuck Yeager’s shattering the sound barrier.
If you’re not familiar with the story, here are the cliff notes. Planes that had tried to breakthrough before were often torn apart. At the time, they didn’t even know if it was possible to break through the sound barrier.
And, when Yeager fired up the engines to try it, they had no idea what was waiting for him on the other side. As he approached the barrier, he experienced the typical turbulence and violent shaking. He held the X1 plane together though and passed through. As he did, the turbulence vanished and he slammed the air speed needle over mach-1.
Two quotes from the segment I saw burned into my mind.
The first was from a fellow that was a colleague of Yeagers. He said, “We discovered that there wasn’t a sound barrier, we had a knowledge barrier.”
The second came from another colleague. He walked up holding a book on aeronautics. He threw it in the trash can and said, “Let’s go re-write the book.”
A couple of thoughts…
Many of the breakthroughs in sales or profits have an interesting commonality. Often, after the breakthrough, the company is able to achieve more productivity or sales or growth with fewer resources.
Almost all the breakthroughs came because someone new came to the table from another industry or specialty. In short, new knowledge was introduced into the formula.
Finally, if you truly want to achieve breakthrough growth and sales, you need to carefully consider whether or not the “book” you’ve been running your business from needs to be thrown away, and a new book written.