Friday, May 30, 2014

Preparing for Opportunities and Contingencies

One of the best ways to look for new opportunities is through purposeful imagination. It inspired President Kennedy to say, “We need men who can dream of things that never were.” There are great undone things to be done. To find some of them, all you have to do is turn off the mental constraints and free your creativity. Purposeful imagination is at the heart of the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” and it is the counter to the “Tyranny of the OR.”

Opportunities are often created by events. Those at the right place at the right time to take advantage of events did not get there just by accident. As the French scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Purposeful imagination is about preparing for opportunities and contingencies. How do you do that? It isn’t hard to do. It is thinking about things that could happen and then imagining how to react to them. It is about doing so with an eye toward the opportunities those events would present.

You do it by setting aside one day month, or a half day every two weeks, with your management team for the exercise of purposeful imagination. Future events that are problems for others become opportunities for the trained mind. While future events may not mirror exactly those practiced as hypothetical, your team will have gained the skill for quick reaction. Like building muscle memory for an athlete through practice, you will have trained your organization to deal with surprises as opportunities rather than problems.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

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