There are things you know (e.g., how to run a meeting) and there are things you know you don’t know (e.g., open heart surgery techniques). Then there are things that you don’t know that you really know (how to stay focused and calm during an emergency).
Today, let’s talk about the unknown unknowns. The times where things jump out of nowhere in our business life and bite us right on the butt (and hold on!).
But how do we uncover those unknowns that we don’t know? How do we find something that we don’t know is lost? Perplexing isn’t it?
You fail because you didn’t:
- Read market signals in a certain way.
- See that your most trusted ally is moving to the competition.
- Know about the ‘hidden’ competition eating your lunch.
In the 90's, U.S. sales of Mercedes Benz plunged 24% due to Lexus/Acura/Infiniti imports. Up until that time, their senior management refused to acknowledge the existence of competition.
Up until 1980, internal correspondence at Sears never even mentioned Walmart.
Sometimes, reality is staring you right in the face . . . and you don’t see it.
So how do you uncover YOUR blind spots? Three ways:
- Stop being so insular and bubbled-up. Open your peripheral vision to what’s happening in the world outside.
- Encourage your team, your divisions, your entire company to keep their eyes peeled for products and competition that could slowly (or quickly) eat away at your market share.
- Think outside of the box. Did you actually think we'd be carrying a GPS, Walkman, DVD Player, Menu Guide, Weather Station, etc. IN OUR PHONE?
Ask everyone for their opinion and LISTEN.
You don’t need to act on everything, but if you’re a faithful reader of Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy, track it, measure it, and address it when the time is right.
What blind spots have bitten you in the past?