FOCUS Consultation

Future
Opportunity
Changes
Unique Selling Points
System Thinking

The Future:

Organizations and Companies always look to plan for the future. It is becoming increasingly common for people to research past trends to determine where the company maybe heading in future. But while analyzing the past is one way through which the future maybe predicted, it is often not accurate and does not portray adequate representation about the kind of challenges a company may face.

The future thus remains unknown and we are vulnerable to a number of invisible forces which could either improve our business tremendously or have detrimental effects leading to total disaster. The question is what are the steps that should be taken to mitigate a possible disaster?

Every organization that aspires to avoid such disaster and move into an era of unparalleled success would need to develop a system by which this could be achieved. Success could mean
different things to different people and organizations. To some, success could mean achieving additional revenue and larger profit margins during that particular financial year, to others, it could also mean providing employment opportunities or developing people or exercising social responsibility. The next question is how do we get there? Do we have what it takes to get there? How can we go about expanding our capabilities such that we can reach those goals?

Scenarios which involve so many questions usually bring about a certain fear among managers and staff. People will automatically go into the problem solving mode and start to set targets so as to achieve their ultimate goals. However, sometimes we tend to put so much emphasis on these targets, goals and outcomes that we fail to concentrate sufficiently on the planning process itself.

Scenario Simulation:

Top and middle management staff could imagine various different scenarios of success or failure in order to be proactive when facing the future. Scenarios of success could determine the kind of profits which the company may see, and the costs it would incur to meet the demand for its goods or services. It could also further explore different areas of business into which it could expand into. Scenarios of failure could also be injected into planning for the future. Scenarios of failure would allow the management to foresee the different issues that may arise and formulate actions that could be taken to prevent the threats even before they become apparent.

Inventing Timelines:

After the use of Scenario Simulations, management teams would need to come up with certain targets or timelines to guide their employees towards the ultimate goal. Timelines also provide motivation for the team to persevere in achieving the smaller milestones along the way. It gives an organization the ability to understand where it is going and approximately how long it will take to get there. A timeline could also be the method of judging progress towards the objective and could provide valuable insight if there is a need to investigate the landmarks along the way. Timelines are crucial to ensure that we remain committed to the mission and do not get distracted by our routine tasks and activities.

Plans:

The planning process is the stage in which we actually decide on how we move forward. However, while we should think ahead and remain committed to our convictions, we must understand that these plans will need to be flexible in order to absorb the impact of something unforeseen coming in to hinder our progress. We need to remain open to the possibility of new technology being released into the market or our competitors making unexpected moves which could tip the scales in their favor. It is not wise to assume that strategies which worked in the past will work in the future and thus, it is important for managers to look beyond what is expected and to think outside their everyday realities.

Trends:

As mentioned earlier in this article, a trend refers to a recurring scenario which seems similar to the situation faced by the organization a few years down the timeline. Managers and staff can then research the scenario from the past, in the form of a case study and extract some of the ideas or concepts which were used in the past. After extracting these ideas and concepts
however, it is important to understand them, analyze why they were successful or unsuccessful and to know whether they are still applicable in the current situation. However,  sometimes past Author: Dean Marcelino Martin trends tend to be inaccurate representations of the present and thus any idea or concept applied from there would need to be adapted considerably.

Sometimes a trend could also refer to a change in the market condition which could have certain effects on the company’s progress. Management needs to be aware of trends which are
developing in the market, trends that are already present in the market as well as trends which will seem to appear suddenly. Take the example of the Apple IPod! When it was being developed, people were aware of it and there was a considerable amount of hype created about it, however, Creative which also manufactures MP3 & MP4 players failed to see them as
competitor n and take steps to preserve their market share which resulted in chaos within the company after the product release by Apple. The shares fell tremendously and thousands of
people were affected. All this could have been avoided if action was taken during the emergence of the trend.

The Opportunity:

The world of the 21st century moves at such an incredible pace that many of us find ourselves struggling to keep up. Opportunities as well as threats are presented to us almost all the time. However, it is very hard to take advantage of all our opportunities and avoid the threats. Therefore, some people choose to compromise and let go of some opportunities in order to fulfill others which may seem more beneficial to themselves. Some people are not aware of the opportunities which are in front of them and some are ignorant of how to make use of the
opportunities they are presented with.

In the interests of making the right choices for ourselves, we tend to focus on the opportunities which we perceive, will be most beneficial to us. The issue here is that everyone in an
organization tends to view the circumstance as it would affect them and not the company as a whole. As such managers in various departments would make decisions which would further their own aspirations while ignoring the requirements and needs of the other departments, thus creating a rift in the process of achieving the ultimate goal. While it finally may work in favor of the company itself, it is obviously a very inefficient method.

Opportunity cost is another factor which we need to pay close attention to. This refers to the amount of time, money and man hours that we choose to dedicate to the opportunity. Another consideration would be the practicality of a particular decision. There may be many other factors which could be considered, but of all these missing a potential opportunity due to ignorance could probably be the worst. How do we overcome the possibility that a potential opportunity may pass us by? How do we determine the costs of a particular opportunity versus another? How do we ensure we are maximizing the resources we have at our disposal to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible?

Scenario Simulation:

Once again, with the use of a little imagination and research on the failures or successes of companies who may have faced similar opportunities or threats in the past, we could recreate the position for ourselves and through this process actually understand the advantages or disadvantages of choosing certain opportunities over others and make our decisions relatively
easier. However, this is a double edged sword as well because sometimes the information maybe conflicting and could leave us second guessing ourselves about the choices we have made. However, scenario simulation is still one of the most effective ways to make informed decisions and actually calculate the risks we would need to face based on our actions. The more important part now is differentiating the threats from the opportunities that we might be presented with, and how do we control our largest limiting belief or factor, perception.

Opportunity Cost:

One of the biggest challenges a manager faces is deciding the value of taking up one project while rejecting another. It requires a great deal of projection and research based on companies
that may have faced similar situations in the past. The reason why it is a difficult task is because data on such matters are not easily available and sometimes might not be available to the public. It is also a challenge to sort through the information which is received to find the useful information and discard that which is not necessary. It is also important to note that managers are held responsible for the decisions that they make and as such must take control and make decisions with as much information as they can possibly obtain. Risk is sometimes good, but it is critical that we do not leave the future to chance and are actually able to accept certain calculated risks which inadvertently come with progress.

Data Mining & Market Research:

As mentioned earlier, it is especially important for managers to work with the right and accurate information which could allow them to make more informed decisions or choices. One way through which we could effectively position ourselves is through the use of professional and experienced marketing research companies, these are people who dedicate their entire careers to assist organizations not only collect but also sort through and understand the data which is received. Through the use of statistics and some estimation, they would be able to give you a clear indication of what market move could present itself as an opportunity and which could pose a threat.

Such companies almost always use surveys, focus groups, seminars as well as consumer behavior related data mining software to gain the information necessary. This could be offensive
to some customers who prefer to maintain their privacy and do not appreciate having their behaviors studied. It must be understood as well that while these indicators would better enable us to take advantage of our opportunities, the operations required to obtain them efficiently could be expensive. In addition, there is no guarantee that the information gathered is a true representation of what might actually take place.

Creating Opportunity:

A very interesting kind of opportunity, that we must not ignore, is that which we create for ourselves. Using the simplest of all marketing and consulting frameworks, the SWOT analysis, we could be more aware of what threats we face, and how we could leverage on our strengths to create opportunity for ourselves. This could be done by various different means such as sending people for courses to further their knowledge of the industry, it could be done through making our own operations more efficient through activities which allow our employees to work closer together, it could be done by moving up or down the supply chain or it could be done by simply making changes to the way we perceive our current situation.

The Changes:

We all know that change is constant. The environment, the market, the people or the circumstances which we find ourselves in differ on an almost every day basis. It is important that
we adapt and change as well to remain competent and improve our operations such that we do not become invalid within our offices or our industry.

However, people largely tend to avoid and fear change. It is apparent that even a small change in the policies set out by the management could take weeks, months or even years to apply across a company. It is important for management to change not only its own way of thinking, but also the way the company’s employees think in order to adapt to the world around us, quickly and effectively.

A few things to consider in this section are; what are the changes that we face in terms of the macro-economic climate? What are the changes that we notice in our own industry? Are these changes going to affect us significantly? Are we correctly positioned to take advantage of these changes? If not, are we capable of adapting to the changes? How well equipped are we to change our operations? How long would we need? What are the resources we would require?

Scenario Simulation:

It has already been mentioned how scenario simulation can help us understand our position, our necessity to adapt to change and the speed at which we can observe and apply the changes in our everyday operations.

Belief Systems:

The biggest limitation for an organization to adapt to change is not the lack of resources or the time frame for the effects to take place. The biggest limitation is actually transforming our
mindsets and that of our employees to accommodate the need for change.

As mentioned above, people are the greatest limiting factor to change, because we tend to get too absorbed in our ways that we fail to stop and look at the possibility of doing it better. We are often unable to move out of our comfort zones and challenge the processe s to explore the possibility of improvement. The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty that is a result of change is what holds us back from taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

It is thus of vital importance to change the way we perceive our surroundings and allow ourselves to think outside our limiting beliefs to truly move into the next phase of development. The ability of the management and employees to remain flexible and welcome the everyday changes and to adapt to make them advantageous for the company is something we must emphasize and note.

The Unique Proposition:

A unique proposition is an opportunity which can be exploited at a greater level to actually generate tangible results in terms of business growth and possibly even profit margins. It is
Author: Dean Marcelino Martin something which allows a company to stand out and shine among the rest of its competitors in order to receive more business and greater market share and is usually a product or service which leaves a lasting impression on the consumers involved.

It is important for every company to identify the opportunities they have or have created which could be converted into unique propositions. So the question then is, how do we exploit our strengths to make us different and better than the rest of our competitors? There are many ways of doing this, you could focus on making your employees more creative and innovative and thus have new and more exciting products or services to allow your company to stand out. It is possible to change the willingness of the people to accept alterations and train them to adopt a lifestyle where everyone is experienced and able to quickly adapt if things do not go according to plan, this too can be a unique proposition when promoting one’s self to potential clients. More technologically enhanced equipment or investment in such equipment could also be a unique selling point. Sometimes, location or even experienced people could be unique.

The Systems:

As organizations grow and start to bring in more people and set up various different divisions and departments, they start to evolve and become more and more complex. A system is a
management tool which could help manage the complexity to a certain extent and create a process which can be understood and followed by everyone.

It is important to note however that systems are made by people, and the people who are involved in creating the systems must have an intimate understanding of every process that
occurs within the company on a day to day basis. They must also be able to maintain a unbiased point of view to create a system which would work for everyone and not something which will be appreciated by some and rejected by others. The system must also be created with the flexibility to evolve as the needs or functions of the organization change.

These are the different services provided by FOCUS Consultancy which will allow the company a more holistic and comprehensive solution for the future. In addition to this the company also provides a wide range of teambuilding and other services which could encourage the organization and its people to identify the difficulties in its current operations and through this experiential learning use the points brought up to develop itself even further. It would also be beneficial for the consultant, or facilitator, to join the company and work with them for a month or so to have firsthand experience of the office environment, the hierarchy and develop a clearer understanding about the systems and processe s which are already in place.