We all manage something or other, whether it’s other people, an entire organization, sales or even just ourselves. Managing suggests careful planning, a well-thought-out direction and a sense of control.
What if we applied that definition of management to opportunity? What if we identified and acted upon opportunity much in the same way as we might manage a meeting, a project or some other form of responsibility?
What sort of remarkable opportunities might that open up for you and your organization?
One element of being a manager—as everyone who manages something or someone knows—is the necessity for reaction. Crises occur, and someone has to be in a position to react to them as effectively as possible and direct others.
Taking a different perspective, that crisis is a form of change or disruption coming from the outside in that has to be dealt with. That’s an inescapable part of the job.
The problem comes when reaction becomes far too commonplace. No matter how agile you might be in putting out fires, constantly reacting to problems and issues is not only exhausting, it can become an unending cycle.
Rather than being a crisis manager, consider what you could achieve if you became an opportunity manager instead?
What do I mean when I refer to an opportunity manager? Simply put, an opportunity manager looks for opportunity, identifies it, acts on it and refines the opportunity. Consider what that involves. Here are three attributes of an opportunity manager.
1. You create change rather than react to it.
Instead of reacting to change, you’re effectively creating change. Rather than being forced to react to something that moves from the outside in, you’re creating change from the inside out. That unto itself means a great deal.
2. You are in control of the disruption.
Change from the outside in is typically disruptive in a negative fashion, something that has to be coped with as best as possible. Change from the inside out, however, is purposeful and constructive—it can be no less disruptive but, as an opportunity manager, you’re the one in control of the disruption.
3. You use disruption to your advantage.
Not only do you create the change and control the disruption before it becomes chaos, you’re also the one leveraging disruption to your advantage. For example, if there’s a shake-up in your industry, instead of hunkering down, you find ways to use what others see as a distraction as an opportunity to innovate.
Becoming an opportunity manager means developing what I call an anticipatory mind-set. For instance, one of the salient principles of the Anticipatory Organization system is Hard Trends—those trends that are future certainties and that you know will impact both you and your organization.
Take a few moments to think about those Hard Trends of importance to you and your organization. Think about the problems and opportunities that derive from those Hard Trends. What can you do now to not only presolve those problems before they become genuinely disruptive, but also leverage those Hard Trends into game-changing opportunities that you can identify and manage?
For instance, one clearly defined Hard Trend is that there will be greater government regulation in the future, not less. For many, that’s merely a headache that has to be endured. By contrast, an opportunity manager looks at that from a completely different perspective. Given that greater regulation is a certainty, what opportunities derive from that? They’re certainly going to be there, whether you like it or not!
Further, an opportunity manager looks at opportunity within the framework of both time and effort. What opportunities are more immediate and mandate less effort? By the same token, what opportunities will require a longer time frame and greater commitment?
By looking at opportunities within those parameters, an opportunity manager can effectively prioritize which opportunities are the most appealing and offer the greatest potential.
Knowing that, what can you do to change yourself from a crisis manager to an opportunity manager?
Stop putting out fires and start igniting some new ideas.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.