by Unplugging from the Present
What if there was a way to predict the challenges your
organization will face and stop them from ever happening? Short of
having a reliable crystal ball, most people believe such a concept
is impossible. In reality, you can solve tomorrow’s problems today –
you simply need to give yourself time to do so.
The fact is that in today’s marketplace, change is coming at
us fast…and it’s only getting faster. That means organizations will
be facing more problems than ever before. One thing we know for sure
is that most problems or changes come from the outside in – external
factors impact the organization. This causes people to react, crisis
manage, and continually put out fires. Therefore, the only way to
gain control of your future and avoid the increasing number of
problems is to ensure that some of the changes come from the inside
out – that both you and the organization make a change before the
marketplace dictates a major shift or change in direction.
Changes that come from the inside out are far more
controllable. Changes that come from the outside in are often out of
our control. As such, crisis managers live in an uncontrollable
world, while opportunity managers have a handle on their future.
The key to becoming an opportunity manager is to have the
discipline to unplug from the present at least once per week and
instead plug into the future. It’s about taking an hour and not
looking at the economy, the stock market, the balance sheet, the
sales numbers, and all the things that are part of today’s world.
Rather, it’s a time to plug into the future, because that’s where
you’re going to spend the rest of your life…it’s where you’re going
to make all your money from this moment forward…and it’s also where
you can lose everything in an instant. Since you’ll be living in the
future, doesn’t it make sense to give the future some thought every
now and then?
If you’re ready to solve tomorrow’s problems before they
occur and see the new opportunities change brings, take the
opportunity hour in your calendar:
In order to make sure you take the time to plan, you need to put the time
in your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself just as you
would for any other important business meeting. If you don’t put it
in your calendar, you’ll never take time to plan. You’ll be so busy
putting out fires that you’ll never get to it. And if you think you
don’t have time to do this, that’s because you’re in a habitual
crisis management mode. The only way to get time back is to spend
the time to stop those problems from happening.
Know whether you’re
dealing with a cycle or a permanent change:
The good news is that most changes are cyclical rather
than permanent. For example, home values will always rise and fall,
the stock market will always fluctuate between bull and bear, and a
company’s sales will continually ebb and flow with the seasons.
Those are all cyclical changes that are a bit easier to deal with –
provided you know how long the cycle will last.
Sometimes, though, changes are permanent. For example,
someone gets an iPod and starts listening to music on that device
rather than buying CDs. That person now has all her music with her
at all times. That’s a permanent change, because she’s not going
back to music on CDs. Permanent changes, even those that are small,
can have devastating effects on a business.
Here’s another example to consider: Today, cable and
satellite companies need to take a look at what the young college
graduates are doing when they get an apartment. Many of them are
opting not to get cable or satellite and instead watch their
favorite TV programs on their computer. If you’re a cable or
satellite company just dealing with changes as they happen, you’re
going to be in big trouble in the future. While it’s a new trend
that is primarily in the younger demographic, those “kids” are going
to grow up and be the main demographic in the country very soon.
Therefore, it’s a potentially permanent change that needs to be on
the cable and satellite companies’ radar. What permanent
marketplace changes are on your organization’s radar?
problems before they happen:
During your hour ask yourself, “Based on the direction I see
things going, the trends I see happening, and the market cycles I’m
aware of, what are the problems I’m about to have? And, equally
important, what are my customers’ predictable future problems?” Then
determine a strategy to solve those problems before they occur. Keep
in mind that a future problem represents a future opportunity.
For example, if you’re implementing a new strategic plan,
predict the problems the plan will create and solve them before they
start. If you’re launching a new product, figure out the problems
associated with that product and solve them before the launch. If
you’re implementing a company-wide change, identify those who are
likely to fight the change and why, and then develop solutions for
their concerns beforehand.
It’s about becoming more anticipatory. If you don’t take an
hour a week to look at what’s about to occur, you’re going to keep
doing what you’ve always done until you inadvertently go off a
cliff. Rather than be a crisis manager and only react to problems as
they occur, you want to be anticipatory, identify opportunities, and
capitalize on them.
Look at the future
of your profession:
In addition to
looking at your industry and organization’s future, whatever
profession you’re in or whatever your career happens to be, you also
need to look at the future of your employment. Based on all the
things you’re seeing with your organization and all the
technological changes out there, how are you going to be doing your
job or career in the next few years? If you can start to see the
future of your career, you can chart your own course, identify
problems before they occur, and solve them proactively so you end up
ahead rather than behind the curve.
Awaits: No matter who you are or what you do, an hour a week is
doable. Before long, you’ll become addicted to that hour and will
expand it. And when that happens, you open yourself up to a whole
new world of possibilities. So don’t wait for your future to unfold
randomly, only to end up in a place you don’t want to be. Instead,
invest an hour a week into your company and/or yourself and watch
your success grow.
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