Have you ever let a good opportunity pass you by? If your answer is yes, you’ll know how much it stings. An opportunity is a unique chance to pivot into an advantage, and if the right one comes along, you should be prepared to grab it.
First of all, what exactly is an opportunity?
Looking more closely at the meaning of opportunity is actually a great way to understand more about it. We define it as ‘the chance to pivot into an advantage.’ There are three key words in this definition, each of which offers a further insight into opportunity.
Chance - most opportunities are risky and uncertain. For example, innovation is a good opportunity, but it might not work out the way you planned.
Pivot - an opportunity often requires a change of direction. It can be dramatic and might even alter your entire business model.
Advantage - if an opportunity has no real advantage, it risks being a waste of time, effort and resources. Take a pass.
Creating momentum in three steps
There’s a three-point plan to making the most of an opportunity.
Identify - the first step is obvious – to take advantage of opportunities, you need to be able to spot them in the first place and work out which are most relevant to your company. Think about whether you want to ‘stick’ or ‘twist.’ Assuming you want to ‘twist,’ think about whether the opportunity will help you stand out in the marketplace; help you offer more or help you reach more people. Finally, ask yourself, is the opportunity truly helpful? Assuming the answers to all of these questions is yes, it’s time to start considering this opportunity seriously.
Must-dos - with the right opportunity identified, what can you do to bring it to life in your company? There are some easy ways to get colleagues on board with an opportunity. First of all, make it actionable – this is often achievable via the language you use to describe it. Fewer ‘we shoulds’ and more ‘we wills’. Secondly, don’t present the opportunity as a done deal – people are more likely to lean into it if you ask for their help in making it 100% perfect. Finally, put numbers to your opportunity, show you’ve considered the return on investment and uncovered a clear upside.
Maximise - how can you put measures in place that guarantee you’re making the most of your chosen opportunity? A lot of this comes down to speed. Maximising an opportunity is a lot like getting the most out of innovation. You need to be prepared to take action swiftly, before your competitors beat you to it. There are a couple of quick ways to achieve this. First up, decide what you’re willing to let go of (detailed information and studies for example) to make way for efficiency. Secondly, do as Jeff Bezos does, and foster ‘disagree and commit’ teams. This allows everyone to disagree to their heart’s content, but only with the mutual understanding that once a decision is taken, everyone commits to it straight away.