Anticipation – the ability to accurately look around corners – serves a leader well.
Prediction is very hard, especially when it’s about the future. — Yogi Berra
Anticipation isn’t the hardest part for a leader. The hard part is doing something about it to head off the disaster or to take advantage of the opportunity. This is where you come in as a leader.
With the understanding that action is critical anticipation is about taking the right action. Here are some thoughts on improving your day-to-day ability to peek around the corner.
The Prospector is a persona from Personal Brilliance. Be aware of the present and also potential changes.
Listen. Involve multiple disciplines. How will marketing think about this operational issue? Use your diverse network.
Read diverse publications – I’m at the local library right now. I regularly choose magazines randomly from the current publication shelf. I’m looking for possible perspectives from arenas I don’t normally play in.
Separate the important from the noise. Social media is an example. Many thought it was the answer to everything rather than a tool. Beware of the band wagon. However, extracting the hidden lesson (faster community action can be powerful) shows the skill of anticipation.
Understand the environment. What will snowbird travel be like during an El Nino year?
360 Degree Focus
Another catalyst from Personal Brilliance. Visualize information floating around you to be easily grasped rather than gathering every tiny factoid for storage later. Look for seemingly disconnected facts that when combined paint a picture.
Skepticism without cynicism
Stand out – group think can be dangerous. A contrarian perspective can unearth opportunities.
Look for unstated assumptions. Break an argument down to its components. Product failures are usually caused by incorrect base assumptions early on.
Stay within actionable time frames. Don’t go too far into the future.
Most of the time the future is just more of today – phone, car, TV. We’ve been using each of these tools for the past 50 years but today’s version is just “more” than it was in 1966. What is the “more” of your thing?
Anticipation is about thinking things through and considering multiple scenarios. Think about likelihood. What’s possible at the positive extreme? What’s possible at the negative extreme? Now, how about the most likely possibility? Take action accordingly.