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This chapter is from the book

An Added Dimension

In the famous story The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes is investigating a crime scene at a large home.6 During his interviews with witnesses, he discovers something peculiar: The dog in the home hadn’t barked during the break-in. This seemingly unimportant fact captures his attention. While others round up the usual suspects, this mysterious clue engages Holmes. The answer to who had committed the crime becomes evident to him as he reviews the evidence. Because the dog normally barked at strangers, Holmes deduces that the dog must have known the culprit. It was an inside job.

Most of us solve problems by rounding up the usual suspects. Holmes looked where others didn’t. His solutions to crimes were there to be seen by anyone who knew how to look and listen. Holmes heard what was being said, as well as what wasn’t said (or wasn’t barked), and contrasted the two. Solving mysteries in true Holmesian fashion is an excellent example of dimensional thinking. Holmes was not linear in his approach; he was versatile in shifting his attention to different dimensions of a problem.

Many experienced detectives would have missed the clue of the silent dog even though it was obvious in hindsight. People are trained to look at what’s there (and are not always so well trained in that), not at what is absent. Similarly, many experienced executives miss opportunities that are right in front of them. With a hectic, get-it-done, accelerated pace, they tend to be linear in their approach. They aren’t thinking dimensionally—that is, shifting their vantage point to see hidden opportunity. As a consequence, their primary efforts remain operational and tactical rather than strategic.

This book provides you with a framework for advantage-making. Applying the commanding vantage points outlined in these chapters should shift the odds in your favor. Just like the fortress commander, seeing possibilities that others don’t know to look for creates a real edge. By making penetrating insights and sound judgments, you turn everything to your best possible advantage and guard against the designs of others. This is the foundation for creating superior outcomes.

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