On today’s show we’re examining the idea of seeing over the horizon. 

The horizon is the distance that you can see before the curvature of the earth obscures what is just a bit further away. 

Generally speaking For an observer standing on the ground with h = 2 metres (6 ft 7 in), the horizon is at a distance of 5 kilometres (3.1 mi). You can’t see over the horizon. But that’s not the only horizon that exists. We as humans construct many artificial horizons. There are horizons in time. There are financial horizons. There are career horizons. 

There are horizons in the game of chess. Some chess players only think one move ahead.  World class grandmasters can see anywhere from 15-20 moves ahead.  It is said that Garry Kasparov knew he had lost a game 11 moves before he was ultimately defeated. The horizon for Garry Kasparov is substantially further than for most other chess players. 

You may know some people who only plan a few days ahead. That is their planning horizon.

The real horizon is what is within our line of sight. If you’re lying on the beach you may be able to see only a few hundred yards or meters. Someone standing upright at a height of 6 feet or a couple of meters, they can see about 3 miles or 5 km. But for an observer standing on a hill or tower 100 feet (30 m) above sea level, the horizon is at a distance of 12.2 miles (19.6 km). How hard is it to find that higher vantage point so you can see further? Often all it takes is a conscious decision to seek out that higher vantage point so you can see further. 

Often all it takes is a decision to plan further into the future. There is no real obstacle. Yes, you may have to make some assumptions about how the future will unfold, but these can often be reasonable assumptions. 

But then there are people who seem to have the ability to see around corners. Do they have supernatural powers? 

Not really. What they have is experience. They can draw upon a history book of past projects that have similar metrics in terms of cost, schedule, resource requirements, and risks. They have relationships with experts, mentors and consultants that they can draw upon to help double check their assumptions. Each one of these steps creates a higher vantage point enabling you to see further, to extend the horizon, and to ultimately see past the horizon.