Focusing on Opportunities

The Challenge Defined:

As companies grow and add levels of hierarchy, it’s harder to stay agile and creative and to respond quickly to new opportunities. Decision-making is slowed because the stakes are higher. Leadership teams tend to shift from a Builder mentality to a Protector mentality. 

At this point, you as a company leader need to reassert the Builder mentality you had when you founded the company and grew it in the early years. You should also engage your leadership team in a fundamental but powerful exercise – the SWOT analysis. No doubt you’ve heard of it and you’ve gone through it before, but I’d be willing to bet you didn’t have the right Builder mindset when you did. 

As you know, a SWOT exercise will identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your company. Typically, when I’ve introduced this technique to client, they’ll initially take a timid and safe approach – even when it comes to opportunities. If they had their way, they’d focus on threats and devote most of their creative energy to identifying the reactive steps they feel are warranted. 

Don’t get me wrong, early warning of threats is important, and taking them seriously is paramount. But that shouldn’t be the sole focus of a strategic session and it shouldn’t form the basis of your operating plan moving forward. 

In the SWOT sessions I’ve led, we pay due respect to threats. We identify them and the reactive/preventive activities that are needed. And then we park them. We shift to the opportunities that will keep the company relevant and differentiated. 

After all, the failure to pursue opportunities can be one of the biggest weaknesses of and threats to a company.

Critical Questions:

  • What products do you make the best margins on?
  • Why is your company better than your competition and how can you exploit that?
  • How do your products/services solve your customers’ problems?
  • How do you balance your and your team’s Builder and Protector tendencies? 

Why This Challenge Must Be Resolved:

Your customers can be fickle. They may not even need a reason to look at a competitor. If you don’t demonstrate innovation and introduce new areas of value, your product lines will become stale and increasingly outdated. Customers will be susceptible to pitches and “shiny things” from your competitors. 

Need help with this topic or leadership coaching? Contact Mission Critical Teams.