Tag Archives: business blog

Opportunity Sensing

In business, we are not particularly good at the kind of singular focus required to take full advantage of pivot points or strategic inflection points when they occur. It often seems we feel the need to mitigate absolutely all of the natural risks associated with a big decision. As a result, we never quite make the commitment necessary to take full advantage of the situation. Instead, we carefully hedge our bets, rather than aggressively pursuing our options and, in the process, we limit the full scope of the opportunity we have.

Opportunity sensing is about taking advantage of the discontinuities when they appear. Opportunity sensing is about staking a claim on an unknown piece of land. Opportunity sensing is knowing, deep in your bones, that what you are about to do just feels right. The leader who can get comfortable with this new way of thinking is the one who will be able to take maximum advantage of the opportunities resident in the state of disequilibrium in which we find ourselves today.

Faint Signals Matter

Most warning signs are not in your face, flashing wildly in different colours to get your attention. As a leader you have to keep your eyes ahead as well as pay attention to what is happening in your periphery. Often, when a brand loses its lustre or deteriorates, the signs and signals were there long before the demise. What may seem insignificant or ‘normal’ could actually be a warning for troubled times. As a leader you have to take note of these signals and respond. Those vague signals can be tough to see. But if you have your head down these signals become impossible to detect. You cannot be a successful Transformational Leader if you don’t implement a radar system to catch these faint signals.

The Coach as Leader

We are nearing the end of what is arguably the largest sporting event in the world; the FIFA World Cup. In the spirit of the tournament I decided to write a quick post linking sports with business deficiencies.

The most talented players only want to play for the right coach with the right system and the right winning culture. In return, frustrated sports fans question whether the loyalty of the players lies with the name on the back of the jersey or the logo on the front. In the future, this same free agent attitude and approach will increasingly be found in the business workplace, where the vast majority of us toil and where the same essential psychology is at play.

The lack of rigorous systems and objective scientific processes in the talent management sphere is only one reason for this deficiency. The other, perhaps even more important, reason is the lack of understanding, poor judgment and the subjective biases that impact our perceptions when it comes to talent spotting and talent management. We all think we are better than we really are when it comes to our people sense.

Mastering Intelligent Opportunism

There is a distinct emotion that accompanies the arrival of a great business opportunity. It is part adrenaline, part fear and part excitement. It is the same emotional high that comes with being close to inevitable victory in a season ending hockey game. It is the point at which everything around slows down, your vision becomes crystal clear and things seem to be effortless, because you can taste victory. In business, moments like these are all too rare. They may be found, from time to time, in the thrill of concluding an acquisition, the inauguration of a new manufacturing plant, the opening of a new store, (or a Game 7 overtime win) but seldom are they part of an organization’s day-to-day experience.

Mindset of Exploration and Discovery

In the current context, the future is optimized when core organizational strategies are framed by a mindset of exploration and discovery, rather than one of exploitation and defense. A strategy based on the old model of exploiting a particular product, market segment, customer group or type of technology is fatally flawed in the world we now live in. Strategies based on the old model have a half-life that is shrinking and are a sure path to competitive disadvantage when events unfold in the unpredictable, non-linear and even irrational fashion in which they almost assuredly will.

A strategic mindset fueled by curiosity, exploration and discovery will produce a higher rate of opportunity creation than would ever be possible through the old methods. It is the more nimble, fleet of foot approach that is better suited to the times in which we live and the competitive marketplaces in which we do business. The choice has effectively been made for us by the context in which we have been asked to operate.

Insight, Intellect, and Practicality

The emphasis we have placed on the value of accumulated or stored knowledge we have worshiped in the past, is now a potentially dangerous source of false confidence. It is actually a rapidly depreciating asset, given the fact the half-life of anything new is shortening every day. To become a transformational leader and truly differentiate yourself, it has become increasingly important to work on your timely retrieval ability, rather than on your storage capacity. The more novel and different things you experience or have an interest in, the more likely your brain will be able to fill in the missing pieces and make the new connections that allow us to make sense out of apparent nonsense.

There are several new mindsets required for someone to thrive as a transformational business leader today. Regardless of the final destination we may choose for our organization, we know the starting point is the same. It all begins with the leader developing a rich and diversified experience repertoire from which new attitudes and new competencies can then flow. It is the complex combination of insight, intellect and practicality that together allow great leaders to not only have a superior radar system with which to detect signals, but also the ability to make rapid fire connections. It is based on their confidence, amplified by their adaptability and fuelled by their intellectual curiosity.

Challenges for the Modern Leader

Challenges for the Modern Leader #5: Say/Do Ratio

This week, I am proposing 5 challenges facing modern leaders, and the respective competencies needed to face each challenge. If you like a specific post, please ‘like/favourite/share’ it. The post with the most amount of engagements will earn a follow up post outlining HOW TO DEVELOP COMPETENCIES RELATED TO THAT POST.

Say/Do Ratio

This is pretty self explanatory, but often overlooked by management teams. If a leader’s say/do ratio is less than 1:1, that leader is in trouble. There are few things that damage credibility more than not following through on something you said you would do.

Modern leaders, keep this in mind. Don’t commit to an action unless you’re positive it can be completed. Don’t make false promises.

Interested in more information on maintaing a 1:1 say/do ratio? Like this post on Facebook or Twitter to warrant a detailed follow up post!

5 Challenges for the Modern Leader

Challenges for the Modern Leader #4: Winning Conditions

This week, I am proposing 5 challenges facing modern leaders, and the respective competencies needed to face each challenge. If you like a specific post, please ‘like/favourite/share’ it. The post with the most amount of engagements will earn a follow up post outlining HOW TO DEVELOP COMPETENCIES RELATED TO THAT POST.

Winning Conditions

The fourth challenge I present for modern leaders is to create winning conditions — create an environment where people thrive and can ‘win.’ As I’ve spoken about before, culture is of absolute importance to organizational success. Leaders must create an environment where people feel like they can speak up, like they can challenge the status quo, like they can creatively problem solve.

To create winning conditions, two competencies are imperative.

TQ – talent intelligence. The ability to spot talent, focusing more on potential than on performance, and judge fit within a company’s culture.

COQ- collaborative intelligence. The ability to foster outstanding collaboration. A type of collaboration where people help grow each other’s ideas — delicately balancing constructive criticism with positive energy.  The ability to know when to be a devils vs angels advocate during idea creation.

Interested in how to develop TQ and COQ? Like this post on Facebook or Twitter to warrant a detailed follow up post!

Challenges for the Modern Leader

5 Challenges for the Modern Leader: Understanding and Perspective

This week, I am proposing 5 challenges facing modern leaders, and the respective competencies needed to face each challenge. If you like a specific post, please ‘like/favourite/share’ it. The post with the most amount of engagements will earn a follow up post outlining HOW TO DEVELOP COMPETENCIES RELATED TO THAT POST.

Challenge #3: Understanding and Perspective

The third challenge many modern leaders is to gain holistic understanding of their organizations’ problems. Can they gain broad perspective of problem at hand? Here, focus must shift between a number of problem solving lenses, reducing myopic, and ultimately ineffective, problem solving. When various dots are connected to solve a problem, creativity and innovation often occur.

Moreover, modern leaders must help people in their organizations understand problems. Not only does this ensure a sense of camaraderie against an organization;s problems, it empowers people: by knowing the problems the organization faces, they may have the capacity to help SOLVE said problems.

The competencies needed for understanding and perspective are:

INQ: Innovation Intelligence. This not only entails having curiosity, drive, and ambition within one’s self, but having the capacity to provide the tools and knowledge for a team to have the same drive.

AQ: Ambiguity Intelligence: The ability to cope with uncertainty without freezing. The ability to remain calm without needing to lock everything down.

Interested in how to develop INQ and AQ? Like this post on Facebook or Twitter to warrant a detailed follow up post!

Leadership Tip

Leadership Tip: Turn Down the Noise

Leading an organization is never easy, let alone in times of uncertainty and chaos. The only way to help ease the mental pressure and the emotional stress of the ambiguity is to accelerate and ensure each stage of the journey adds layers of additional coherence to the situation. In order to provide coherence and confidence, the leader must dramatically turn down the noise level, eliminate unnecessary distractions and banish the fear of uncertainty. This is best accomplished by committing to a narrow, sharp set of aligned strategic imperatives, rather than making things overwhelmingly complex. Things will be complex enough without adding more to the mix. In other words, the leader must jettison all of the extraneous activities, pet projects and non-essential activities that might exist, in order to help focus the organization on a singular set of interrelated objectives.

As a leader your job is to get your organization properly coordinated. You will need to hone the focus such that no matter how far into the future you look, the picture is still clear and unclouded by the frivolous or the unimportant. It is amazing the lack of clear-headedness you can find in some leaders. It is shocking how often organizations allow themselves to become trapped by adding unnecessary layers of complexity on top of far too many priorities, and then mixing them together with countless trivial diversions. It’s a sure recipe for underachievement.