Friday, August 17, 2012

Profiting from Uncertainty and Change

I was looking over my bookshelf.  Yes, I still have printed books that I read; not everything has gone digital.  One of the books on the self is Profiting from Uncertainty: Strategies for Succeeding No Matter What the Future Brings by Paul J.H. Schoemaker.

Few of us have the concentration needed to apply Schoemaker's approach to scenario planning and dynamic monitoring.  Nevertheless, Schoemaker has it right.  Change (especially uncertain change) is the stuff opportunities are made of—provided you have developed a way of thinking that prepares you and your business to take advantage of whatever the future brings.  The French scientist Louis Pasteur said it in one short sentence: "Chance favors only the prepared mind."

This morning my wife was reading about the problems resulting from changes in apartment and home design—open floor plans, hardwood floors, hard surfaces like granite and the disappearance of window curtains.  Surprise—privacy has been eliminated and the hard surfaces have created a sound problem.  As a result, there is now demand for mechanical screens to close off open spaces when privacy is needed and sound absorbing panels to dampen the reverberating noise.

The point is change increases opportunities.  The key is to be prepared for it so that you can move quickly to get there with products or services to meet new needs.  You have to anticipate possible future events in order to have a basic plan in place to move faster and with more resources than the other guy.  Have a weekly lunch or a monthly evening session devoted to nothing but thinking about things that could happen and then thinking about how they could happen differently.  The mission would be to identify strategies that would allow you to benefit rather than suffer from these events.

Have fun thinking "out of the box" and strategically thinking about how you could capitalize rather than suffer from uncertain future events.  That "thinking out of the box" exercise is likely to become your vehicle for rapid response to real-life events.  Chance, Luck, Opportunity—whatever you call it, it benefits best those who are prepared.  Practice prepares you to take advantage of events that surprise others.

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