The Democratic Presidential race will have historical consequences.
Advantage-makers spot opportunities in problems – and a recession can be a real problem. And there’s the opportunity. Everyone wants their problems solved.
Most people think about taking advantage of an opportunity, shift to focus on how you can take advantage of a problem.
People became millionaires during the Great Depression. And while I don’t know any personally, I don’t think they were all robber barons. Some businesses typically do fine, such as automobile and truck parts.
Be an Advantage-Maker inside your organization. You can either create the horse to ride or pick a winning horse. Your choice. Finding a horse to ride may be faster, simpler and easier at this time.
The first Advantage-Point:
Adapt and Stretch – the person with the widest range of responses wins. Non-adaptiveness is costly.
It’s not the best who wins, its who is most adaptive
While most people are engaged in cutting and reducing, Advantage-Makers put their attention on creating more value. Now is the time to distinguish yourself in the marketplace compared to the cut and reduce crowd.
Dr. Fleming discovered peninsulin when a pesty mold killed his bacteria culture. Not a good thing. Fleming made a dimensional shift in his thought process and saw the mold not as a problem but a solution to another problem – that of ridding unwanted bacteria. Solutions are waiting to be found in the recession. Shift your efforts to providing targeted advantages for your customers.
A person with attention deficit disorder takes his malady – short attention cycles and becomes a master at disaster recovery – ever ready to multi-task and fix things rapidly.
What solution is looking for the problem you face?
Money is on everyone’s mind now.
Use the code of the advantage maker: time, interactions, perceptions, structures. (T.I.P.S) with the two main problems people are concerned with: surviving and/or saving money. Focus on shifting one or a number of the T.I.P.S. and you may find your opportunity knocking.
For example, shift payments into the future, it will reduce resistance and accelerate sales. Speed is also a time shifting advantage. Taking too long will undermine your responsiveness to customers. Remember customers are really willing to leave now, applying the different shifts can create new value.
During the recession efficiency becomes the catchword.
There is nothing more efficient than creating an advantage.
How do you categorize experiences?
Do you notice what is there or what is missing?
First, why does it matter?
1) A technology manager accepted the vendors judgment that shutting down the data center was just like the time before. This time the system crashed and results were disastrous, millions of dollars lost. They missed the small but significant difference.
2) A sales V.P. viewed all challenges as the same old, same old. He almost lost his job because the CEO didn’t think he could develop new strategies. Fortunately, we identified and changed his tendency to categorize experience with what he already knew.
Second, do you sort for sameness or difference?
Do you always notice how things are similar to what you already know and do? What’s the relationship between this job and the last? Same or Different?
In other words do you look for matches for your current knowledge?
When a presenter is speaking do you find yourself agreeing with most of what they say? That’s just like …
In your thinking do you always find counter-examples. Ways in which what the speaker is saying isn’t accurate.
Are you noticing the mismatches?
The sameness sorting pattern looks for commonalities.
The difference sorting pattern notices what stands out from the rest of the group.
Another way to say this is that there is a tendency to either match with, or mismatch what is already there.
Advantage-makers are fluent in both matching and mismatching.
If you want to spot opportunity and create advantages it is useful to mismatch, that is, sort for differences.
Advantage-Makers walk into situations with their ability to actively sort for differences. They note weaknesses, threats, and problems, as well as opportunities that others aren’t seeing. Instead of seeing what is expected, they notice what is unexpected. They are able to spot anomalies and then take advantage of them. The point is not to get caught in any rut.
Practice noticing what is different.
In a task or negotiation, ask yourself,
1) What appears obvious, along with what am I not seeing?
2) In the unlikely event that a problem occurs what will we do?
3) When you are stuck shift from sameness to mismatching, or from difference to matching.
You can spot opportunity but only if you notice difference.
“They don’t wear shoes here I’ll be on the next plane home.
The second shoe salesperson calls up headquarters and says,
“They don’t wear shoes here, send all you can!”
This story illustrates the difference between accepting the givens or taking advantage of the givens.
One salesperson has a long tiresome plane ride home, the other salesperson spots opportunity.
Who would you want on your team? Which salesperson are you?
An Advantage-Maker’s judgment begins with questioning the givens.
Are you just going along with your circumstances?
To be able to see solutions that others don’t even know exist you must first question the givens.
When it comes to creating advantages it pays to know what you are after.
I’ve been asked, “How do you define leadership?” a thousand times.
Do you know how to shift the odds in your favor in the best of times and the worst of times?
Imagine that you are a commander of a fortress under a daily siege for six months, your supplies are down to two bags of grain and one cow. You have no way to communicate to the outside world for help. What would you do?
Expecting to hear the expected – ration as best you can, you can empathize with the quartermaster’s surprise and shock when told to stuff the cow with grain, and catapult it over the wall during the next attack.
What would you think of this bovine assault if you were on the receiving end? The field officer interpreted the counter attack as an act of disdain and defiance. There must be plenty of supplies – since the cow was well fed…
The result? Fearing a long, drawn-out battle, the enemy ordered an immediate retreat, ending the conflict.
As the leader, would you have been able to shift the odds in your favor under the duress of battle? More importantly does this have any application to 21st century leadership?
That’s the subject of my book, The Advantage-Makers: How Exceptional Leaders Win by Creating Opportunities Others Don’t. It’s also the subject of this blog.
Advantage-Makers see things differently.
Military analogies have their uses and limitations when it comes to business. What matters here is the illustration of changing the game.
The Advantage Maker Strategy is a radical new tool that changes the game by helping you see what your competitors do not, and act on these insights to gain and sustain the leadership position in your field.
Your ability to consistently create superior outcomes when a wall is placed in front of you separates the leaders from the followers, the advantage-makers and the disadvantage-acceptors.
Advantage-Makers consistently transform challenging situations (whether its competition, customer, organizational, team or people issues) into the best possible outcomes more often. Perhaps you are not under the harsh conditions of war, but your ability to strategically shift in the face of constraints is called into action repeatedly.
Derek Gordon (the CMO at Clorox) tells me “that’s what we have to do, to deal with the walls, and get over them.”
You have walls placed in front of you, how do you relate to them? Advantage-maker or disadvantage-acceptor?
Our fortress commander didn’t get over the wall, he tossed the cow over the wall.
Advantage-Makers see solutions others don’t even know exist.
It’s not news that the best leaders are those able to spot opportunities, create benefits, and influence outcomes.
What is new is knowing what is going on behind the curtain, what strings they are pulling to see opportunities where others see only problems, move forward when others are stuck, and create successes where others fail. It almost looks like luck, but it isn’t.
Advantage-Makers aren’t any more creative, intelligent, or determined than you. Advantage-Makers do not possess any specific personality type or traits. In fact, it’s not about positive or goal-oriented thinking, although there is nothing wrong with those things.
Advantage-makers are in a different league.
How do they do it? There is a secret code Advantage-Makers share and use. If you wants to play in their league this blog will help you learn the code, play and succeed.