The Future Arrived Ahead of Schedule

Like so many businesses and people, we are all trying to navigate territory that feels unfamiliar and foreign to all of us. Finding our way in the future will not be a straight line or something we can map out step-by-step. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to have to side-step, change directions, and pivot many times.

Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, that you can tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” There is information everywhere; what is needed is an actionable insight that is surprisingly hard to come by. What does the present moment mean for your business? The key will be to listen to and understand your customers and their needs, more deeply than just listening to and understanding surface responses. Here are some essential questions to start asking and exploring:

  1. What is the perception of your business right now? What are your customers saying and what are you sensing? Are you communicating the safety procedures you have implemented to keep your customers and employees safe? Are you promoting your safety and sanitizing efforts? Now, more than ever, telling how you are keeping your customers and employees safe is critical.
  2. In what ways have the needs and wants of your customers changed? What immediate needs or wants must be addressed for your customers in the near-term? Your customers may now expect touchless interaction, and their expectations will continue to grow toward that end. How have you changed your processes to meet your customer’s expectations? Remember, if you don’t, somebody else will.
  3. Assess the landscape of the offerings in your industry. What is available right now to your customers? Now is the time to innovate and to change. There is no better time to try new things, things that you would consider doing over the next five years, but you can try now. 
  4. What are others in our community – including competitors – doing well? There are businesses and people who are early adopters and are quick to try things, and some of those new things are working. Watch and pay attention. There are great ideas all around you; open your thought processes to help you connect the dots on how to use a new concept or process. 
  5. What are others missing where you see an opportunity? How can you out-execute others in your industry or those who are your competition? Here is one critical competitive advantage you may have – the ability to execute an idea or process. There are lots of great ideas in the marketplace, but many fail because they cannot complete or implement a new idea and make it work. “Vision without execution is an illusion.” 
  6. “Shoshin” is Japanese for a beginner’s mind. Do you have a beginner’s mindset? Are you willing to ask lots of questions and not be afraid of what people are going to think of you? There is no playbook for what we are experiencing. No one has all the answers. The people who are not afraid to ask questions and explore new possibilities will win. Ask the “why,” “what if,” and “how” questions.

This is a great time to look and think about things differently. There is opportunity.

Better, Stronger, Together.