Does this sound familiar?

In the past the business had been doing OK. The results were not spectacular but it provided a living  and there was hope for better things.

Suddenly things have changed. For some years now there has been no growth, maybe even a decline.

At best the future looks no better than the present. At worst the business is on its way to closing.

You may have been blindsided

Being blindsided may mean a total destruction of your business. Suddenly a new technology, a new service, and/or a new product make your business model redundant. And you are gone. For example, we all know how digital music has impacted the music business, and how digital news has affected newspapers. More recently how on line shopping has decimated retail stores.

Jim Harris, in his book “Blindsided”, talks about blind spots that organizations have that makes them susceptible to being blindsided. He claims that we as managers are too concerned with problem solving, and not enough with problem seeing. It’s problem seeing and opportunity perceiving that will separate the market leaders from the losers.

Why do companies get blindsided? Some of the answers are:

  1. Reluctance to change. Much has been invested in the status quo. Our business model, our skill set, our organizational structures have developed over time and reflect our comfort zone.  A new innovation is a threat  and the tendency is to ignore it.
  2. Inability to distinguish noise from signal. There are thousands of potential trends out there. New technologies, shifts in consumer behaviour, new products, new competitors. How can we tell what is a real threatening signal and what is merely noise?
  3. Focus on our immediate tasks.  The busier we are with day to day problems the less time and energy we have to scan the horizon. Often we are stretched to the hilt, we work long hours and have no time to investigate, brainstorm, or assess what’s going on beyond our immediate horizon.
  4. Situations are complex. But we have a bias for action. As a result we treat symptoms, and not root causes. We think that a solution to the presenting problems provides the answer, but problems are interdependent. We search for simple solutions because we think there’s only one problem, but more likely there is a  set of  problems.

 

It’s natural to put the fires out, to service the existing customers, to market your products and services to new markets. These things are essential to business survival but they are not enough. Somewhere now, somebody is working on an idea that may kill your industry.

The key to security for our business is acknowledging that there is no security. However, we can prevent being blindsided through faster recognition and response to changes in our environment.

Learn how to deal with challenges such as being stuck by downloading our    diagnostics and see why your business is stuck.