Wednesday, March 25, 2020

7 Tips To Maximize Breakthrough Thinking In Business

Breakthrough-thinking-in-businessMost of you realize that survival in business today requires grabbing hold of tomorrow’s opportunities with disruptive innovation, before your competition or a new startup gets there. The challenge is to create a culture of forward thinking in your company, and avoid the traps of following the paths of least resistance and most comfort that appear in every mature company.

For example, Hewlett Packard, the recognized leader in scientific calculators at the time, rejected Steve Wozniak’s idea for a personal computer as having no opportunity, since they were sure that no ordinary person would ever need to use a computer. Wozniak’s ideas were too far outside the HP comfort zone of business and scientific users, but Steve Jobs wasn’t ignoring the clues.

I just finished a new book, “Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking,” by Trend Hunter CEO Jeremy Gutsche, who outlines his proven methods you can use to break free of the traps that limit future thinking in most companies as they grow and stabilize. I see these traps all too often in my role as business advisor to small companies as well as large.

Thus I support the following key strategies, recommended in the book, to help you and your team realize your full potential in keeping up the ever increasing pace of change in the marketplace:

  1. Spot the subtle clues that hint toward great ideas. The first challenge is to make time to scan for ideas, filter down to the best ones, and look for patterns. This means talking to your loyal customers, as well as non-customers who are in related market segments. It also helps to bring in outsiders periodically to suggest ideas you might be overlooking.

  2. Eliminate learned behavior and mental shortcuts. We are all human, so our creativity gets limited by learned behavior and all the things we do to function as productive adults. One antidote in any business organization.is to schedule a monthly “fun day” to foster and reward creative thinking, team bonding, and set the culture for breakthrough ideas.

  3. Maintain a sense of urgency and need to be proactive. Most entrepreneurs remember the sense of urgency they felt in startup mode, but don’t see it in their team today. In stable businesses, you get what you reward, so you must incent urgency with metrics for number of proactive projects, expected implementation guidelines, and no failure penalty.

  4. Expand rather than reduce options for future choices. In business, you tend to make decisions that get short-term results, not realizing that certain choices can fix you to the path you are on and reduce your future potential. You need to push yourself to consciously make decisions that open up options for the future, rather than close options.

  5. Don’t let success make you complacent and protective. Every business needs a balance of hunting for new opportunities, versus farming the results of the market you have won. Too much farming, and you fail to adapt. Many of the most iconic brands suffer from the traps of farming. Maybe it’s time to reorder your top ten priority list.

  6. Bypass linear thinking in an exponentially evolving world. As we are bombarded with what’s happening today, we fail to forecast tomorrow, because we forget that the pace of change is not simply faster, but accelerating. It helps to track the amount of change in your market, and maintain scenarios to disrupt it or avoid being disrupted.

  7. Master discomfort to achieve breakthroughs. New ideas are awkward, because they require you to change. We all have many traps that create discomfort and block us from seeing the potential from change, including unknown risks and hidden costs. Accept that comfort is not a good thing in business, and counter it with the anticipation of success.

Now is the time to be excited as an innovator during the greatest period of change in human history. You, your team, and your kids need to choose to enjoy the enhancements, disruptions, and changes of key technologies that reinvent humanity and business. You can make it a great time to be alive, or an oppressive burden. I find the former to be a lot more fun and satisfying!

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on Inc.com on 03/11/2020 ***

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