Capitalizing on Opportunities

Solving for the opportunity.

We're proactive when trying to capitalizing on new opportunities. I call this solving the opportunity. The opposite of solving problems that already exist is this. And while 1-3-1 works for reactive thinking, solving for the opportunity requires a completely different approach.

I've already covered how to solve problems reactively. It's all about solving for the thinking that allowed the problem to exist in the first place and adjusting the process for creating solution to ensure the the same thinking never takes place again.

But there's no baseline for what could happen when solving for the opportunity. So how do we do it?

Thinking ahead:

So you have an idea. How do you make sure you're solving for the opportunity?

My first step is to ask myself: "If they thought of this idea before, why wouldn't they have done it already?"

Assuming someone has thought of it before is typically a safe bet. Most ideas are not net-new, despite what the tech world wants you to believe. Many people believe their ideas are novel. I was one of these people for a very long time. But the truth is that it's not the case. Especially in bigger companies, people have ideas. There's a good chance yours has come up before. Understanding why someone is not already doing something might help you avoid looking stupid; and more importantly, save your valuable time on a lack-lustre idea (that seems novel in the moment).

The next question: "will this actually solve for the opportunity?"

This often requires running some calculations or thinking through the pros and cons of what you're doing. Of course, make sure the idea is not creating more problems than it solves. This is where 1-3-1 can also be useful. In all the previous problems you've solved, you've looked at the thinking that allowed the problem to exist. This is where you make sure that you're not following in the same patterns. Don't look at the individual item, look at the thinking behind it and make sure it's sound.

Next, the third question: "Why might this fail?"

Naturally you want to get ahead of all the potential points of failure as you solve for the opportunity.

How it actually looks:

Let's say you have an idea to improve the sales flow by including financial projects in the proposal. You'll show clients exactly what they have to gain by working with you. The logic is that they'll have more confidence in you, and make it more likely that you'll get the sale.

But you bring this to your manager, and then what? They ask you what it might look like. They'll tell you why it didn't work, and the list goes on.

So how do you get ahead of this?

Why might they not be doing it already if someone else thought of it? Too much work.

Will it actually solve for the opportunity? Will salespeople spend more time on projections than talking to clients? Better not.

Why might this fail? Can salespeople even do projections? If they try, will they be accurate?

The idea is great. It's made better by adding "I made a template for them to create financial projections. It takes 5min and it already works in our existing proposal workflow."

Done. Now the idea is real, ready to go, and everyone can run with it right away.

See the difference?

Nobody likes the person who brings up problems with no solutions.

They also don't like the person who brings up ideas with no useful next step.

Think ahead.