One of the most challenging (and I’d argue exciting) aspects of running business … whether you are a CEO, a GM, or a product management leader … is balancing the need to define a long-term, sustainable business and the need to drive immediate revenue.  This is especially true when launching a new product.  The scope should always be driven by answering 3 simple questions (who am I serving (the market); what do they need/want that they are ready to buy; how can I reach/persuade them). If you satisfactorily answer these questions, then the solution should be architected in such a way that it easily serves the needs of the many rather than the needs of one.

But what happens when the situation isn’t as cut and dry as following the rules? What happens when you are faced with the prospect of a decision when the outcome either way has significant ramifications? To what extent should you then sacrifice the needs of the many?

Sometimes hard questions have to be asked, and it isn’t as easily as following the formula out of a leadership textbook.  Does the opportunity still fall within our distinctive competence; if we pursue the opportunity, does it present differentiation and lock out competitors for a time; does pursuing the opportunity entrench us as a thought leader?

Sometimes the rules would dictate that you forgo an opportunity … but sometimes that opportunity is too valuable to forgo.  When this kind of situation presents itself, to what extent are you willing to sacrifice?

I love the scene in Star Trek (the new one) where Kirk is presented with just such a challenge in the ultimate test of his leadership skills under pressure.  What would you do?