Anticipate More and React Less! How To Shift From Crisis Management to Opportunity Management

In my latest New York Times best seller Flash Foresight, I share seven principles that can make invisible opportunities visible. Becoming anticipatory both personally and organizationally is crucial.


Agility has been a reasonable survival strategy during times of rapid change, like the 1980s, 1990s, and even the early 2000s. Today, however, the pace of technology-driven change is beyond rapid. Change is too fast for even the best reaction time to be fast enough. These days, thriving is not only about agility; it’s also about anticipation.

Being proactive has been another popular technique; it’s defined something like this: “Don’t wait, do something now—take action!” But do what? How do you know the action you’re taking is the right action? Being proactive is the attempt to solve today’s problems before they grow worse. That’s not good enough: we need to solve tomorrow’s predictable problems…before they happen. We don’t just need to take positive action: we need to take positive action based on future known events. To succeed today, we need to be preactive.

Being proactive is agile; being preactive is being both agile and anticipatory.

The shift from proactive to preactive also creates a shift in the nature of our relationship to change. We tend to think of change as disruptive, but this is generally true only when change comes from the outside in. For example, when a new technology comes out that changes customer behavior, or when the boss changes strategy, or when a competing marketplace opens up overseas, we scramble to adapt.

Being preactive means putting yourself into opportunity mode, looking at predictable problems before they occur, and then preventing them from happening in the first place. It means, instead of always reacting to change that happens from the outside in, it’s about creating change from the inside out.

Change from the outside in is disruptive. Change from the inside out is purposeful and constructive. This is the kind of change that allows you to direct your future and seize your destiny. The only possible way to operate in that kind of change is by becoming anticipatory.

One way to do that is with a tactic I call future benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a popular technique of strategic management that involves tracking and imitating the best practices of the leader in your field. But there is an inherent problem here: you’re benchmarking the best practices of the present. By the time you reverse-engineer it, copy it, and implement it, it will be obsolete. Because change is moving forward so rapidly, you’ll always be playing catch-up.  

What you really want to do is jump ahead. How? By skipping over today’s best practices and benchmarking what the best practices will be in the visible future, based on Hard Trends and future certainties.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer. You decide that Toyota’s “lean manufacturing” approach is the best model around right now, so you say, “Let’s copy that.” But it may take you four or five years to successfully copy what Toyota is doing. So what do you do?

Instead of looking at what Toyota is doing today, ask yourself, “Based on the Hard Trends we know will happen, and the strategic path Toyota is on, what is our best projection of what Toyota will be doing four or five years from now?”  You will be amazed at what you can see when you take this approach.

Then you can base your strategy on emulating those best practices so you can become the leader of your field, instead of staying in a perpetual game of follow-the-leader.

How are you supposed to figure out what Toyota, or anyone else, is going to be doing five years from now? By taking the time to fine-tune your knowledge of the Hard Trends.

Here are a few examples of Hard Trends to get you started:

• Demand for wireless broadband will continue to grow.

• Social media will increasingly be used for marketing and to engage with customers.

• After 4G wireless, we will have 5G wireless.

• Smart phones will get much smarter and cloud computing will continue to rapidly grow. 

These are just a few examples of Hard Trends.  By taking the time to list all of the things you are certain about instead of being stuck on all of the things you are uncertain about, you will not only become anticipatory and preactive, you will discover a powerful new way to see new opportunities and create competitive advantage ahead of the competition.

Try it. The results you will get from being anticipatory will amaze you.

What makes someone gay? Science is trying to get it straight.

Evolutionarily speaking, being gay is still something of an enigma

Videos
  • Heterosexual people have been less interesting to scientists than gay people, in terms of where they come from, because, evolutionarily speaking, being gay doesn't lead to a higher "higher reproductive fitness" — meaning, it doesn't lead to more babies.
  • Across cultures, gay boys tend to be more interested in spending time with their mothers.
  • We still don't really know why gay people are attracted to each other.

Study: Memories of music cannot be lost to Alzheimer's and dementia

The part of your brain responsible for ASMR catalogs music, and appears to be a stronghold against Alzheimer's and dementia.

The parts of the brain highlighted in red and yellow are thought to control your sense of attention and memory. (image c/o Brain Network Lab)
popular

Some music inspires you to move your feet, some inspires you to get out there and change the world. In any case, and to move hurriedly on to the point of this article, it's fair to say that music moves people in special ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Misbehaving: being clever and wicked is a form of creativity

Creativity can bring about unchecked harm, but it's up to us how we wield it.Aeon counter – do not remove

Mind & Brain

Suppose you forgot it was your partner's birthday, but you know that they would appreciate the smallest of gestures, say a bouquet. It's late at night and no florists are open. The cemetery on your way home has recently had a funeral, and you walk across the site and pick up a good-looking bouquet of roses from someone's grave. You then head home, and the flowers are happily received by your partner.

Would you say that you hurt anyone?

Keep reading Show less