Solve Problems and Innovate as an Anticipatory Leader™

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow.

Anticipatory Leaders™ understand that we are at a unique point in human history, filled with waves of disruption and opportunity. We are doing things today that were impossible just a few years ago. If you look at the Hard Trends that are shaping the future, you can easily see that we will be doing things two years from now that are impossible today. That means the old rule, The Big Eat the Small, is being replaced by a new rule, The Fast Eat the Slow. They know this new reality is driven by the exponentially increasing rate of technology-driven change. Many wonder why so many established organizations of all sizes are moving so slow. The answer is simple: they think they are moving fast. But in this new era, they’re actually moving slower than they realize.

Young professionals are aware their organization’s pace is too slow as their mindset is less historical. They have looked around and seen others outside of their industry moving much faster. The best and the brightest of the younger employees often see the older leaders in their organization as almost fearful of making a bold move.

Anticipatory Leaders leverage the complementary strengths and weaknesses of all generations to enable the organization to move forward faster. They combine the wisdom and experience of the older employees with the out-of-the-box thinking and awareness of new technology that the younger employees have to accelerate innovation and growth. They use the confidence that comes from the certainty of Hard Trends to jump ahead quickly with low risk. They know that not moving faster and bolder is the bigger risk, and that if they don’t take advantage of new technological capabilities, someone else will!

Here is a big insight that Anticipatory Leaders know: trying to keep up in today’s world will only keep you behind. The reality is that the company you are trying to keep up with is not standing still. It is most likely ahead because it is anticipatory and moving far faster, keeping a good distance ahead of you. It embraces the fact that in a world of exponential change, advantage comes from jumping ahead of the change curve with the confidence that comes from high levels of certainty, and not relying on reacting quickly after the disruption or problem happens.

When we think of innovation today, we tend to think of the big innovations that disrupt industries or create a new product or service line. This type of innovation doesn’t happen very often in traditional organizations, and often has long time frames from ideation to implementation. In addition, only a small percentage of all employees will be involved in the process. Anticipatory Leaders go beyond reactive innovation, even fast, reactive, agile innovation, and empower employees with two new types of anticipatory innovation: Everyday Innovation and Transformational Innovation.

Everyday Innovation empowers all employees to implement inventive solutions to everyday problems by providing easy-to-use methods for rapid problem-solving. This includes applying Problem Skipping and the Law of Opposites, as well as keeping their opportunity antenna up to look for potential problems to pre-solve before they happen. It’s amazing how innovative people can be when they know a few basic principles and are empowered to take positive action immediately.

Transformational Innovation involves identifying the Hard Trends that are shaping the future and using them to become a positive disruptor, jumping ahead with the low risk that comes from certainty and the knowledge that if you don’t do it, someone else will.

If you would like to go beyond agility and become an Anticipatory Leader, pick up a copy of my latest bestseller, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage, and consider our online Anticipatory Leader System.

7 Failures of Business Growth

If you want to stand out in today’s marketplace, you must work smarter, not harder. This is easier said than done, however, as despite their best intentions, companies get snarled in the glaring failures that derail business growth and stagnate profits.

In order for you to avoid these failures, you have to be aware of the most common ones and the strategies for combating them. The following will help you turn failure into success.

1. FAILURE TO ANTICIPATE

Most companies react to change as it occurs. You must anticipate and plan for future changes. You can anticipate a great deal in your industry. For example, are automobiles of the future mostly going to be electric instead of gas? Many think so. Could automobiles hover like drones instead of drive on four wheels? Of course!

Instead of being a crisis manager and reacting to change, anticipate changes so you can drive growth from the inside out. Spend one hour a week focusing on predictable opportunities to strategize and become more of an opportunity management organization.

2. FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
There is a difference between informing and communicating. Informing is one-way and static,  and seldom leads to action. Communicating is two-way and dynamic, and usually leads to action. We have these fantastic Communication Age tools but use them in an Information Age way. If you can’t communicate internally with your staff, how can you communicate externally to customers and shareholders? When you focus on maximizing two-way communication, you can create a Communication Age organization and accelerate positive change.

3. FAILURE TO COLLABORATE
The majority of people tend to cooperate, which is a lower-level function different from collaboration. Even though we often use the word “collaborate,” we frequently really just mean “cooperate.” Cooperation means, “I won’t get in your way if you won’t get in mine.” Such an approach produces results but certainly not outstanding results, because it’s based on a scarcity mentality.

Collaboration is instead based on abundance and gets competitors to work with you rather than against you. It occurs when we put our heads together and ask ourselves, “How can we create a bigger pie for everyone?”

4. FAILURE TO INNOVATE
When asked what their last big innovation was, most companies have to go back five or ten years to cite something meaningful, as the majority of companies innovate once, form a company around the innovation, and then let it ride. They stop innovating and instead spend a great deal of effort asking themselves how they can become more efficient by doing more with less, reducing overhead, and using technology better. You must ask yourself how you can use technology and staff to create new products and services to increase sales all around. Innovation fuels profitability and efficiency.

5. FAILURE TO PRE-SOLVE PROBLEMS
Always remember that a problem isn’t an opportunity in disguise; it is a problem! A problem is only an opportunity before it occurs, and most problems we experience are predictable. If you ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the real opportunity. Instead, you need to think at a level higher and ask yourself and your customers, “What problems are we about to have?” Develop new solutions based on those answers and base your product development on your customer’s future problems

6. FAILURE TO DE-COMMODITIZE
Unfortunately, most companies come up with something new and make it their main product. Other companies copy the product, and then market saturation occurs. Try de-commoditizing your offering by taking your product and putting a service wrapper around it. For example, in the electricity industry, the utility provider cannot increase prices without permission from ratepayers. One electric company bypassed this limitation by creating what it calls “digital electricity.” They sold customers a product that, for a higher cost, prevented any fluctuation of voltage from occurring. Many big companies signed up for this more expensive service, and in the near future, homeowners with streaming devices will have a similar interest. This electric utility took a product and wrapped a service around it in order to de-commoditize.

7. FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE
Too many companies become just like everyone else. True strategic planning needs to be more than numbers based; it needs to focus on how you can differentiate your company and products from those of the competition. You differentiate by avoiding all the failure modes we’ve discussed that prevent business growth. You anticipate, communicate, collaborate, innovate, pre-problem solve, and de-commoditize. Become what your competition isn’t in order to differentiate.

BUSINESS SUCCESS IS ON YOUR HORIZON

When you know the failures to avoid and the strategies for combating them, you’ll be well on your way to learning from these failures, rethinking the way business is done, and creating an organization that continues to grow despite external factors.

NEXT STEP: Pick up your copy of The Anticipatory Organization to discover proven strategies to accelerate innovation and shape the future–before someone else does it for you!