John Hagel III, co-author of The Only Sustainable Edge: Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization with John Seely Brown, put up an excellent post on risk last week that I think is quite relevant to all TDIs. In the post, John references the very useful work of two other authors, but he makes his own important point as well:
Rather than just treating the environment as a given, executives need to realize that in times of rapid change and uncertainty, significant opportunities to shape the environment arise. Opportunities often exist to shape the environment in ways that would just not be possible in more stable times. By being alert to these opportunities, executives can both increase the potential upside from their business initiatives while reducing the potential downside.
of seeing themselves as being at the mercy of prevailing conditions,
leaders must increase their sensitivity to any unexpected opportunity
to seize the initiative. In the process, they can redefine not
only their businesses but also the operating environment itself.
While the short-term goal is to minimize the impact of risk on the
organization's strategy and operations, the long-term goal must be to
leverage risk to gain strategic advantage.
How do you do this? John suggests looking for "edges,"
what I would describe as the thin spaces between what's being done and
what is possible. I agree, and I would add the "gaps," the spaces
between what's being done and what can be done even a little bit better. What are the gaps and edges in your organization's work? Please share your thoughts. We will continue to explore these ideas here on TDI.