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  • George Bradt

The Secret To Seeing Around Corners

We all know them – those amazing people who appear to be able to see around corners. They almost always seem to know what’s coming before anyone else does and be ready for it.

Here’s their dirty little secret.

There is no magic. They just spend more time with outside-in thinking than the rest of us. They are constantly looking for potential changes and asking themselves, “What if?”

Thus, when things happen that surprise others, they’ve already thought through their options.

Outside-in thinking

Premise #1: You can’t control external events. All you can control is how you react to those events.

Premise #2: People needing to react quickly to external events have less time to think things through than those that anticipate possible external events.

Putting those together suggests you’re going to better off thinking about possible external events in advance.

The 5Cs framework is a good place to start: Customers, Collaborators, Capabilities, Competitors, Conditions

Conditions: The context in which you, your customers, collaborators and competitors work in. Look at social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, micro and macro-economic context and trends and market definitions, inflows, outflows, substitutes and trends – as well as the impact of climate change on your organization.

Ask what if some of those change in ways different than you expect.

Customers: Those that benefit from the output of your work product.

Collaborators: Those that work with you to produce or enhance the design, development, selling, distribution or support of your work product.

Competitors: Those that create anything that your customers might choose instead of your work product.

For customers, collaborators, and competitors, focus your what if questions on possible changes in their needs, hopes, preference, commitment, strategies, and price/value perspective at any stage along their chain – including influencers.

Capabilities: Your own organizational strengths that enable the design, development, selling, distribution or support/service of your work product.

Of course, everyone you offer jobs to will accept and none of your key people will ever leave. Of course, all your people will deliver on all their commitments. But, just in case, ask what if things don’t happen exactly as planned.

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