I did an experiment not long ago. I showed my team the front page of our leading business newspaper where there was a picture of them with the headline Bilot’s success story is unparalleled. The article claimed that our revenues were forecast to reach 500 M€ that year. The paper was dated November 15, 2025. Given that our revenues at the time were about 15M€, my team gulped and began to sweat.
I went on to ask them to split into two groups and come back in an hour with answers to the question: “What have we done to make this happen”.
They came back with two surprisingly identical and credible strategies and roadmaps how to hyper-scale our business. I was ecstatic to see my experiment a success. My intention wasn’t to get precise strategies but instead to make them ask the right questions. By boldly setting the target unreachably high, we forced ourselves to think out of the box and dismantle our classical assumptions, remove all road-blocks and break free of inhibiting mindsets.
They came back with two surprisingly identical and credible strategies and roadmaps how to hyper-scale our business.
I’ve also heard that growth is the wrong target, it should merely be the outcome of doing things right. Well, as true as that is, setting the bar high enough, boggles the mind set and takes you to a wavelength you wouldn’t tune into otherwise. This exercise was about learning to think boldly. It was about being outrageous. It was about thinking the unthinkable. It was about wandering out of the comfort-zone. It was about thinking at scale.
Looking at the modern business environment and especially how digital megatrends and exponential technologies, moonshot thinking and disruptive business ideas are changing our lives, being less than bold is being value destructive. Not thinking bold is depriving your future of its full potential.
I recently read the book Bold (Diamandis & Kotler) and it is an excellent synthesis of evidence, argumentation and advice on how to survive and succeed today and tomorrow. It felt like the perfect backdrop for Chief Digital Officers who surely need to flex their thinking between today’s reality and tomorrow’s promise. And hence it was an obvious educational give-away to our CDO Barometer respondents.
They are science-fact, not fiction. They are role models of thinking bold.
It was easy to relate to the book’s theses of being radical and how flow is crucial. Even if some of the examples were from different industries of business models that mine, it is worthwhile appreciating that some of our and your competitors are those invisible to the naked eye. We can be caught by surprise by someone who is bolder than us.
Thinking bold is an attitude. It comes more naturally and natively in the start-up and scale-up domain, but entirely possible for anyone and in any industry. Who could have predicted 15 years ago the magnitude at which e.g. Dropbox, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Über, Facebook, Spotify and AirBnB will have quaked entire industries and in record time. Thinking big comes natural to some – Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page break the barriers of imagination. Their ideas are often bold, usually wild and are above the line of ‘super credibility’.
Because there are few true inhibitors of hyper growth, thinking bold is a worthwhile exercise. When you look back at the many recent examples of globally disruptive companies, you should see them as positive examples of hyper creativity and monuments of atomic entrepreneurial power and not threats. They are science-fact, not fiction. They are role models of thinking bold.
Are you punk enough to challenge today’s norms? If you were to set a ridiculously outrageous target for your business, would you come up with bold enough questions?
I invite you to seriously think about this.