What are you NOT seeing? And what is it going to cost you?
Years ago I would periodically attend senior staff level meetings for my boss when he was out of town. This would happen only a few times a year, but inevitably, my boss would be surprised at the insights I would give him from the meeting. Not the notes on what was said, but my take on the changes in the internal politics. Just by observing the meeting I could tell which departments were in favor, which were jockeying for position and which had fallen out of favor. Often before he had even noticed.
When we’re in the middle of something on a constant basis we don’t always catch the subtle signs of impending change. The details of our day to day existence distract us so we don’t step back and take a look at the big picture, and even when we think we do, we look at it through a filter of what we think is happening. We look for things that will reaffirm what we believe to be true and ignore those that invalidate our truths, there’s even a term for it, “confirmation bias”.
Test yourself today. Are your assumptions about what’s working (or not working) true? Answer these questions off the top of your head… then go run some tests to verify.
Your revenue generators:
- Who are your key clients?Are they the same people as previous years?
- Any changes in buying patterns? Do you know why? Would they cite the same reason?
- What about payment patterns? Anyone now a slow payer that wasn’t?
Your Customers or End Users:
- What questions are your customers asking?
- Do they indicate movement towards a new product line, a new technology or a new need?
- Are they finding you the same way they used to? (Think of the days of yellow pages vs. internet, vs. mobile technology). Can they find you using the method they’re using?
- If you have a physical location does it show up on Google maps?
- Does the name of your company, department or group actually indicate what you do or sell now?
- Morale up or down? Why?
- Are you attracting better talent to join your team than the talent you’re losing to competitors?
- Is your team all from the same background? Schools, geography, ethnicity, gender, age, economic background? Any chance that’s hurting you?
- How long have they been in the same roles? Is there an incentive for them to move out if they can’t move up? What will you lose if they move out?
External factors and competition:
- Is your competitor’s market share shrinking or growing?
- Is the overall market for what you offer shrinking or growing?
- If the market is shrinking, what’s taking the place of what you are offering? Is there a new technology or is someone else promising a “magic bullet” solution to your customer’s needs? What’s attractive about that “magic bullet?”
Find any surprises? We’re so busy trying to “make it all work” that tectonic shifts can be taking place beneath
our feet without our noticing. Consider today a starting point, a new commitment to seeing the whole playing field. For even more things to take a look at, download a copy of our free field guide, Reading the Terrain, by subscribing at with your email address. It will help you look at your playing field with fresh eyes.
Have you ever missed a key change in your industry? How did you catch up? What opened your eyes? Discuss in our comments section.