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Be Readier Than Anyone Else to Anticipate Now and Later

Apr 3, 2008
Many irresistible forces will arrive without being anticipated. Your best weapon in defending your business is to have a thorough understanding of what should be happening with your stakeholders if the irresistible forces are acting as you believe they are.

When you notice that something new is going on, that can be your clue to look for an impending irresistible force. These new influences usually affect some parts of the stakeholder universe first and can be leading indicators of the future impact of the irresistible force.

With that model in mind, consider these questions.

How can you develop proprietary insights into what is happening with your stakeholders that allow you to compare them to a control group (so-called "normal" circumstances)?

Here's one idea: become the data warehouse and analysis functions for those who are like you but are not your competitors.

Another way is to form mutually exclusive data-sharing agreements with your stakeholders who have private or semiprivate data collected from others that they can ethically and legally share with you.

A third option can be to help launch a new company to do this, and receive a preferred relationship on a permanent basis for your initial help.

You could also develop a new measurement that is easy to do and to keep private, but that others couldn't easily duplicate. For example, if you are the largest service provider in the industry, this information could be something that is collected by your service people when they are visiting customers.

How can you begin to inexpensively collect data now that will be critically valuable in the future, but that are impracticably expensive or complicated to use now based on the current level of information technology?

In organizational environments, real-time survey information fits this description. Someone ten years from now cannot know "why" someone did what they did before unless they collected the information as the actions happened. An example is determining "why" customers switched from one supplier to another.

Another example is capturing what such switching customers would have preferred that suppliers provide, that no one provided at that time. Documenting similar information in the context of acquisitions during an industry consolidation can provide excellent guidance for evaluating your potential to make future acquisitions and do better with customers in the process.

By tracking this information over time, you will increasingly be able to anticipate shifts in customer preferences, even before the customers are aware that they are shifting their focus. You can collect the data, keep them in electronic form, and simply begin to use them when it becomes practical to do so.

In the meantime, you can run small experiments to test the usefulness of the information. Such raw-form data collections can often cost as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of what the ultimate cost to use them will be. Since the long-term benefits can be staggering, this is an expensive way to exceed the future best practice.

Here are a few other areas to consider for this opportunity:

You can do similar things with each of the constituencies you serve, as well as profiling behavioral patterns of your competitors.

In technical areas, you can accumulate experimental data that may be to be used for new types of analyses that will become feasible in the future.

In government policy changes, you can map out precursors to the changes to improve your ability to anticipate change using a wide range of factors.

You will find it most helpful in each case to capture data where no one is measuring now, which will be unable to be accessed in the future by anyone else.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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