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What are the possibilities?

School holidays are nearly over and I’m looking forward to focusing on my clients and future clients.  My goal this year is to help as many people as possible to see the possibilities – ie think strategically!

Without the motivation and ability to think about opportunities, risks and possible consequences of elements outside our own control, it is impossible to prepare your business (or career) adequately for the future.  Experience tells me that many people process information as discrete data, unrelated to other information.  I sometimes wonder if this is because of the way we chunk topics through school and university – learning about each in its own silo and not necessarily thinking about how that topic is part of a whole, influencing and being influenced by all the other topics being studied in other departments.  This discrete way of viewing information inhibits managers and professionals from engaging in systems and strategic thinking, needed for preparing and planning ahead.

I have some favorite methods of increasing your capacity to think more strategically.  Here’s three of them:

  • When you read or hear news items, ask yourself how this could impact on you or your business, on your suppliers and on your clients.  Think through 2 – 3 levels of impact.  For instance, in my daily today, there was an article about how my city’s river might have to supply water to a larger city.   I wondered how it will affect manufacturing, farming and other local businesses dependent on water supply (my level 1 thinking).  And if they are affected, how might that flow on to my clients (service firms) – my level 2.  Level 3 would be the impact on my business.  I also wondered what benefits my city might gain from this – what would we want in return?  I thought about how that would affect everyone here in our typical ‘drought’ months, when we already have restricted water use. These are just some of the many aspects that I could relate to this topic.  But you get the idea.
  • Deliberately access a wide variety of information.  Read about topics unrelated to your normal reading.  Ask yourself how you can use the ideas in the articles in your own business, and how trends in these other areas could affect you or your clients.  It’s easy to access a wide variety of topics on-line, and off-line the magazines in cafes, doctors and dentists waiting rooms are good ways to extend your exposure to new ideas.
  • Mix and mingle with professionals and specialists in areas other than your own.  A scary idea, I know, but you’ll be amazed at their different world view, and also their predictions for the near future.  Just as you know lots about your area or industry, they know what’s happening in theirs.  And what happens in one place, sooner or later impacts in others.

In business, thinking about a range of scenarios and preparing for new risks and opportunities always beats out being forced to respond with no forewarning or preparation.  You can’t predict everything, but you can be regularly thinking about possible impacts and be ready to respond to change, whatever that change may turn out to be.

Categories: Business and Strategy

What 2011 might hold…

December 21, 2010 1 comment
We can never be entirely sure of what the future holds, and to be a strategic thinker, it is vital to apply some thought and energy to possible scenarios.  Here a ten of my predictions for the next year or two:
 
  1. Strategic thinking will be a sought-after skill as organizations struggle to survive the recession and find opportunities to grow.
  2. Property prices will remain flat and as a result fewer people will choose to retire from the workforce.  This will have implications for how older workers are managed, and for unemployment figures.
  3. To find the skills they need, more companies will source globally and employ virtual teams where members may live in a range of geographic locations around the world.
  4. An emphasis within organizations on succession planning and management to ‘grow your own’ leaders and specialist expertise will continue and grow.
  5.  It will become more common for professional bodies to agree on international qualification standards to facilitate the movement of professionals around the world
  6.  A backlash against the public way in which young people are growing up due to social networking and other technologies will develop.  Politicians will come under increasing pressure to legislate to ensure individuals can control images and information about themselves.
  7.  Domestic robots for a greater range of household tasks will become available and increasingly affordable.  Approximately 5% of homes in first world economies will use domestic robots by the end of 2012
  8.  There will continue to be growth in home-based care for pre-school children and the use of nannies by working parents in preference to daycare centres and after school care programs
  9.  More mothers will choose to stay at home until their children begin school.  Businesses will need to adapt their parental leave provisions and re-integration processes to attract talented staff back.
  10.  There will be an increasing swing back to values like character, integrity and social conscience in a search for greater meaning, well-being and happiness

I’d love to hear your ideas.  There’s no right or wrong so add your thoughts!

Categories: Strategical Savvy
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