Learning to Manage Opportunity in the Unknown

Daniel Burrus
May 20, 2020

Daniel Burrus

One of the World's Leading Technology Forecasters and Business Strategists
Learning to Manage Opportunity in the Unknown

We all manage something in our lives. Whether we manage other people, an entire organization, sales or even just ourselves, management is part of our everyday lives and includes careful planning, well-thought-out direction and a sense of control. What happens when we apply that definition of management to the concept of opportunity? What if we were to identify and act upon opportunity much as we arrange and then manage a meeting, a project or some other form of responsibility that takes place each day in our lives? What transformative opportunity does that foster for your organization?

Take Anticipatory Action, Not Agile Reaction

One element of being a manager is the necessity of reacting to crises. This COVID-19 global pandemic we presently find ourselves in is the perfect example. In the wake of the coronavirus, I'm sure you have had to manage a crisis or two you never before thought plausible, yet somehow you overcome it every day.

Crisis is a form of change or disruption coming from outside of your organization that greatly impacts the status quo and must be dealt with. That is a perfect description of what the coronavirus pandemic has done to us all, no matter what industry we find ourselves in. However, COVID-19 and other forms of disruption and perceived crises aren't the problem; the real issue is when your response as a leader is solely reactionary and habitual.

No matter how agile or clever you are, repeatedly reacting to problems and issues will eventually be a never-ending cycle. This is why change must happen by way of implementing anticipation--allowing you to become an opportunity manager instead of a crisis manager.

What Is an Opportunity Manager?

What does it mean to become an opportunity manager instead of a crisis manager? Among other things, it means being anticipatory, paying attention to the Hard Trends shaping your industry and pre-solving problems before they occur. An opportunity manager looks for opportunities, identifies them, acts on them and refines them. An opportunity manager is a positive disruptor. More specifically, here are three attributes of an opportunity manager:

1. You create change rather than having to react to it.

Instead of reacting to change, you effectively create change. Rather than reacting to an outside factor, like a nationwide shutdown of nonessential businesses that most business leaders never anticipated, you're reversing these effects and creating change from inside your organization.

2. You are a positive disruptor.

As I mentioned, you create the disruption instead of being disrupted by it. This pandemic has created a "new normal"--so merely waiting for disruption to hit you is a poor choice. New innovation is needed, so creating positive disruption from inside your organization allows you to stay ahead of the innovation curve.

3. You use disruption to your advantage.

Not only do you create the change and control the disruption before it disrupts you, but you're also the anticipatory one who's leveraging disruption to your advantage. For example, instead of attempting to protect the status quo (as most are doing in reaction to COVID-19), you find ways to use that disruption as an opportunity to innovate, continue to serve customers and possibly even continue to offer said service once the pandemic is over.

Become an Opportunity Manager

Becoming an opportunity manager means first developing an anticipatory mindset. For instance, one of the salient principles of my Anticipatory Organization Learning System is Hard Trends, which are future certainties that you know will impact both you and your organization.

Take a few moments to consider what Hard Trends could drastically affect you, your organization and your industry as we come out of this pandemic. Likewise, think about the possible problems and opportunities that you can foresee those Hard Trends bringing with them for you or your customers. What can you do now to not only pre-solve those problems before they become detrimentally disruptive, but also leverage those Hard Trends into game-changing opportunities?

A good example of a Hard Trend is the reality that there will be greater changes in regulation of brick-and-mortar businesses as they reopen into the "new normal" COVID-19 has left us in. For example, the Las Vegas entertainment industry, which makes up nearly all business in lower Nevada and relies on in-person contact much of the time, must reopen safely.

An opportunity manager looks at opportunity within the framework of both time and effort. What opportunities are more immediate and mandate less effort, and what opportunities require a longer time frame and greater commitment?

For Las Vegas, the immediate opportunities are most pertinent, and an example of an opportunity manager in this case is a local billboard printer who began making custom-fitted plexiglass shields, allowing individuals to play cards at a table while being separated from one another.

In the face of the unknown, it is time to transform your role from a crisis manager to an opportunity manager. The playing field has been leveled, so learn how to become a positive disruptor with my Anticipatory Leader Membership which includes live monthly Strategic Deep Dive Webinars.

Daniel Burrus

Want Daniel Burrus for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
The Human Factor: Digital Connectivity Still Needs a Human Touch
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
November 24, 2020
We live in an amazing era of technology-driven transformation that's ...
4 Ways to Unplug from the Present and Plug into the Future
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
November 18, 2020
What if I told you there is a way to predict and even pre-solve the problems ...
Hindsight from 2020: Strategies for the New Normal
Daniel Burrus
Daniel Burrus
November 11, 2020
These days, you can find a slurry of memes and motivational graphics on social media ...
The Human Factor: Digital Connectivity Still Needs a Human Touch
We live in an amazing era of technology-driven transformation that's redefining how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, innovate, train, and educate--all in an amazingly short period of time. Because of this, there are worrisome questions for many in a multitude of different industries: What will happen to my job? Will technology disrupt ...
Read More
4 Ways to Unplug from the Present and Plug into the Future
What if I told you there is a way to predict and even pre-solve the problems and challenges your organization will face and plug into the future? Most people believe such a concept is impossible; a crystal ball as such doesn't really exist. But in reality, you can solve tomorrow's problems today using anticipation and trends and leverage disrupt...
Read More
Hindsight from 2020: Strategies for the New Normal
These days, you can find a slurry of memes and motivational graphics on social media alluding to the concept that you must always beat out your competition in business. But contrary to popular belief, competing with other businesses is actually quite counterproductive, especially in the post-pandemic "new normal" we face - something we never...
Read More
Think Bigger: Turn the Pandemic into a Panoramic View
A post-pandemic question I hear frequently from all industries during the pandemic is, How do we communicate to our employees and customers going forward, and what do we tell them? Communication was a huge obstacle for the education industry at the start of the pandemic. How do we discuss what to do with our staff and students, and is there a on...
Read More
Failure Is Just Part of the Game
Given the recent release of the documentary series The Last Dance, I found this example to be more prevalent than ever. Basketball great Michael Jordan once famously stated that he had missed more than 9,000 shots, lost 300 games, and missed 26 game-winning shots in his career. Following that statistical analysis of his own mistakes, he said...
Read More
5G Is Far Bigger Than Faster Smartphones
The world has never experienced as much uncertainty as it has today. The global pandemic has disrupted business, government, healthcare, and education on a global level. This extreme disruption is far more than institutional. It's been personal, disrupting how we all live, work, and play. At the same time, because businesses and organizations o...
Read More
Solve the Real Problem with Exponential Thinking
I have discussed at length the importance of making sure that the problem you and your organization are facing is the correct problem to be focusing on. Currently, we are moving toward a post-pandemic "new normal" as we navigate the tidal wave of COVID-19. In one way or another, all industries were affected, but brick-and-mortar businesses w...
Read More
De-Commoditizing is Key - Make Your Products Stand Out
Every industry has products or services that are commodities. From food and beverage items to household products and daily services, commodities are everywhere and make bottom-line profits harder and harder to attain due to the fact that consumers tend to view commoditized products or services with an attitude of ambivalence. This is beca...
Read More
Why Should We Embrace Change?
If I were to ask you if people like change, your knee-jerk response would likely be no. However, the reality is that humans actually crave change. Take vacations, for example, or the lack of vacations due to COVID-19. We crave travel because we want a change from our usual surroundings, and new experiences. Yet, keep in mind that travel is chang...
Read More
Find Certainty in An Uncertain Future
In many ways, I am sure society is well aware of certain leadership principles that have stood the test of time in business environments. Personality traits such as integrity, honesty, and responsibility immediately come to mind; however, in a disruptive world, there are more that, many do not realize, are vital to professional success to find c...
Read More