A spirit with a vision is a dream with a mission. - Neil Peart
I've been thinking about the balance between vision and practicality, and how a dream with a mission can blind and deafen even the most intelligent and well intentioned. To achieve any mission you need both a Dreamer to provide vision and a Captain to provide leadership. As a Dreamer it's your responsibility to embody the vision and preach it as gospel in order to embolden your team and convert the nonbeliever. As Captain you ensure there exists a realistic possibility to execute the mission, chart the course, and keep the ship from running aground.
In some organizations these responsibilities are divided among individuals, however in many others a single person is burdened with these often diametrical roles. The Captain overcomes criticism with facts and reasoning; the Dreamer overcomes criticism with powerful conviction. Success is multiplied when the roles reinforce each other. When the Dreamer can trust the Captain has the compass, map, a clear destination, and the ability to navigate he doesn't need to pull up charts and graphs to make his case. If he can communicate his vision with clarity and passion he can persuade. Likewise when the Captain can rely upon the Dreamer to communicate the vision effectively, he can focus on the plan, charts, and graphs to provide the foundation required to even get a deal. Think of it from an investor's perspective; they're not going to invest in a dispassionate business owner no matter how good the numbers look, and they're not going to put their money with the charismatic visionary who has no demonstrative means of executing.
Great entrepreneurs are both Dreamer and Captain. Every day I strive to improve in each area, but it's easy to get so wrapped up in one that you lose sight of the other. I look to the greats for inspiration. Watch a Steve Jobs presentation during a major product launch. He seamlessly blends conviction and reasoning to communicate a vision in a way few are able. For execution, he relies on Jonathan Ive, Apple's design guru. Mr. Ive plays a major part of the Captain role by realizing the physical manifestation of Jobs' vision flawlessly. With my strengths and weaknesses in mind, I've done my best to surround myself with brilliant people who, replace my limited skill in some domains with expertise, fill in completely missing gaps (you should see me try to draw or animate), compliment each others skills, and act as productivity multipliers on the business. My goal is to make everyone at Uber believe in the mission and have confidence we'll get there as a team, which is not hard because this place is full of Dreamers and Captains.