TraditionallyPeople are usually hired by businesses to perform a job function, usually defined in a job description or specification. Indeed the performance of many job functions is measured by key performance indicators (KPIs) and bonuses are often tied to achieving these.
However, is that sufficient?
In these fast-moving times, with new and better products, processes and services at every turn, many business have recognised the need for change. Formal innovation programs have now been established as a means of equipping people with the tools that may enable them to go beyond their designated job function to add extra, perhaps even breakthrough, value to the business.
In addition to the innovation endeavour, a new horizon of "opportunity" has now emerged as a means to move staff from operator to opportunists.
What is an opportunity?Unlike the dictionary, which defines the word opportunity as "fortunate intersection of events" - which is essentially "luck" and leads you nowhere in the opportunity search, a better definition of opportunity is:
Take the realisation of gravity as the force that pulls everything towards the earth. Gravity has been in place since the birth of the planets but it was not until Isaac Newton made the observation that all things fall to the ground that led to his understanding of gravity and his gravitational equations that even today underpin much of physics.
If we accept this definition for the word opportunity, and its key word "observed" we can actually work to teach our people the fundamentals of observation that routinely result in an opportunity.
Can you teach people the art of opportunity capture?Essentially the search for an opportunity requires just five fundamental observation criteria and eight ways of working on each of these observations in order to explore new and different wealth generation activities for your business.
The first and easiest to use search mechanism is what I refer to as "predictable activity" - what can I predict will happen?
Indeed, if I can make a prediction it's a bit like having tomorrow's newspaper. Perhaps I can take advantage of the certain knowledge that something will happen.
Legislation is a great driver of prediction, we need to be watching to see what will drive behaviour and move to take advantage of that. For example, the laws that moved smokers outdoors predictably led to the boom in outdoor furniture and al fresco dining. I wonder how many people predicted that outcome and used that knowledge to advantage.
There are many ways to predict what will happen with great reliability, we just need to learn to observe.
Opportunism does not have to be a matter of luck as many people may think. In fact the systematic search for an opportunity is perhaps a more reliable way of finding new business horizons than some of the quite abstract creative thinking techniques or innovation programs. Further, the beauty of opportunism is that it is largely market driven, and of course, markets are the key to business growth.
Where to from here?Whilst innovation and its techniques may be one way to think about ways to build a business, remember, opportunism should also be embraced and perhaps be given some considerable weight in your business development program