The philosophies of getting things done... and maybe a little leadership.

If you haven’t heard this from me before let me offer something up for your consideration —

"Everything we deal with can be categorized as either an opportunity or a problem". 


Sure some philosophies may offer broader considerations, but from a day-to day perspective it has worked very well for me over the years. You find yourself, on almost a constant basis, dealing with either an "opportunity statement" or a "problem statement". And an important consideration with regards to this, is if you can't categorize what you are dealing with, maybe it's not worth your attention or is of little consequence. 

Once an opportunity or a problem has been categorized and articulated it becomes an issue of assigning Goals and Objectives to whatever you are dealing with (this will help you zero in on what you are going to do with either your problem or opportunity). It should be pointed out that you may have a laundry list of opportunities and problems, so it’s also important to prioritize what you’re dealing with to ensure you are minimizing your big problems while taking advantage of your biggest opportunities — the problem of not knowing where to go after your favourite restaurant has closed pales in comparison to the unexpected government audit that has come your way.

As you move into the execution stage, there are three considerations that should be top of mind —

Ensure you involve people who are committed, have diverse perspectives (and skill sets), and are able to leave any ego (and agenda) at the door. If you are leading the effort let your team do their job because they’re definitely going to do a better job hitting those Goals and Objectives than you.

Have a framework and a process to move the thinking and execution of your initiatives forward. I liken it to a funnel — initially you want your approach to be broad and capture as much input and thinking as possible; as you prioritize and progress this thinking it allows you to focus in on key initiatives that you can execute on (and measure). A time and event will help you stay on track and meet your milestones.

Be aware of the time and resources you have to work with. This keeps you grounded in reality with regard to what you can and what you can not do — for example, planning out a multi-channel marketing campaign but only having the budget for guerrilla marketing will be a problem. Use your money effectively and show results because simply put, success attracts money.

And finally measure everything you do. Set expectations and measure how you are doing relative to them — whether it’s solving for the initial problem, understanding if you have met your Goals and Objectives, determining if you’ve initiated your key activities, or if you’re on schedule to meet your milestones. It should also be stressed that although you should never loose sight of hitting our Goals and Objectives, it’s just as important to always be progressing. Constant measuring will insure you are heading in the right direction.

It probably wouldn’t hurt if everyone around the table is also showing some leadership — my experience is this is how things really get done.


What will happen over the next twenty years...


I have never been much of a futurist — I am more one to muddle through the muck of the moment and work through whatever comes my way. Recently though I've been thinking I should take a different tact because we're in the throws of dramatic change and with that, amazing opportunity. Maybe it's time for me to take pause and think about what the future may hold (and like a good surfer, look for a fine wave to catch). If you have ever attempted to surf you know the best wave is found in the green water — it's where you can catch the wave early, ride it longer, and have more fun.

This is something I am actively exploring and will be quick to ask about.

So I ask you, "What do you think will happen over the next twenty years?"

As I start to explore the green water of the future, here are some of the considerations that have resonated with me so far... be it as opportunities to explore, problems to anticipate, or simply considerations to prepare for (aka adapt to).

  • Our natural environment will continue to change, and all that stuff we make will continue to spill over into it. 
  • Our symbiosis with technology will continue to a point of physical change and it will blur the lines regarding what it is to be a human being.
  • Artificial Intelligence will impact the definition of work and what people do.
  • The established structures of trust, power, and government will be challenged by technology and by the evolving definition of work and how people find fulfilment.
  • National identity will be displaced by city and corporate states.
  • The "networks of connection" will challenge the ability of people to connect, relate, and trust at a personal level.
  •  We will live longer, but probably not healthier.

As I say I am no futurist so this is a conversation I am eager to have with anyone who has some thoughts. Please let me know what you think (or know) — it's greatly appreciated.

At this point, all I know is we are on the cusp of substantial change, I want to be part of it, and a person can do amazing things in twenty years.


My opportunities + problems are very different things. Or are they?

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

When you boil it down to the bare essentials, business (and possibly all aspects of life) is simply about dealing with opportunities and problems. Everything is either categorized as an opportunity or a problem... if it can't be, why are you dealing with it?

The way we address opportunities + problems is more or less the same:

  • Understand the situation.
  • Identify objective(s) to deal with the situation.
  • Develop plans and initiate activities to meet the objective(s).
  • Adjust according based on effectiveness of the activities and other feedback.
  • Monitor the situation to ensure the objectives have been met, controlled and are sustainable.

It does seem we view opportunities + problems as opposites - Opportunities are considered beneficial and generally embraced, whereas problems are generally viewed negatively and to be avoided. Are they really opposites though? The most optimistic of us will say the difference is simply attitude... every problem can be looked at as an opportunity and it is just a mater of perspective.

Ponder this though, a person has 900 pounds of wood fall on them, turning their foot around 180 degrees and breaking their pelvis in three places. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who would say, "Good for them, there is great opportunity in what has happened". No one is looking at this as an opportunity to take advantage of, but rather a problem to be solved. Although there is an ample amount of optimism, it is directed to a quick recovery not the philosophical perspective between opportunities + problems. 

Opportunities and problems should not be viewed as opposites but rather as a sliding spectrum from problem to opportunity and vice versa; constantly moving as problems are solved or situations change. What is a problem today, once solved, becomes an opportunity tomorrow... much like the problem with a broken leg and the possibility of never walking again. Four months after the fact, the problem becomes an opportunity to coach others how to fight through adversity and be better than ever (which includes walking, running and playing).*

The difference between Opportunities and Problems lie with the negative consequence of not solving them successfully. If you miss on an opportunity, there is opportunity cost to contend with to be sure, but most likely there are few negative changes with your current situation. With Problems however, if you are unable to solve for them, you are still dealing with the negative consequences of the situation - And more often than not, it leads to more problems. 

Consequence makes my opportunities + problems very different things, and although my approach to solving for opportunities + problems is more or less the same, I will always deal with my problems first.

If truth be told, it took me a while to figure this out.


PS: The blog title was influenced by the musical group July Talk and I have attached the link to their video with a similar title. Guns + Ammunition  

* This is one of Big Red's more colourful stories.