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Sep 11 / heathgross

Seeing Around Corners

Run with confidence
One day while out on my daily run, I noticed I was approaching a blind alley. As I approached the alley I realized I had two choices: I could either continue running, with the hope that there were no oncoming cars, or I could stop at the intersection before crossing to ensure everything was safe. Running into a blind intersection is risky, but stopping to peek around the corner would kill my momentum.
As I drew closer to the intersection, I noticed a traffic mirror installed on the opposite side of the alley.

The mirror was positioned in such a way that I had a complete view of the intersection, alerting me to an oncoming car! I came to an abrupt halt and let the car zoom.

Within seconds I safely crossed the intersection, thankful for the ability to see around the corner.
Everyday businesses face the same critical decision when developing and executing business strategies: ‘Do we sprint through the intersection without slowing down in our race to be first-to-market? Or do we stop at each intersection to peer around the corners for fear of what may, or may not be racing toward us? Neither of these are sustainable strategies, and while they may not risk personal injury, the economic and organizational impact of not being able to ‘see around corners’, can be disastrous.

But how can an organization ‘see around corners’?
It’s as simple as installing a traffic mirror. Well, at least metaphorically.

Step 1: Identify the intersection
You don’t need mirrors at every intersection, that would be a waste of resources and completely unnecessary. The key is to identify the blind intersections, those upcoming decision points that you have very little information about.

Step 2: Install the mirror
To see around corners, you need the right tool, in this case, a mirror that has a specifically designed bevel to provide a full view of the unseen intersection.
In terms of decision support, what the organization needs is detailed information, or intelligence, that would otherwise be unavailable to the decision maker. The most effective tool for gathering intelligence about a company’s external environment is competitive intelligence (CI). Using the wrong tool to gather information about your competitive landscape is equivalent to using a flat mirror; it might provide you with an accurate reflection of yourself, but it won’t help you see around corners.

Step 3: Position the mirror
Once you have the mirror installed, it is important that you point it in the right direction. This might seem like common sense, but understanding the objective and scope of the decision-support research is critical. If the research is pointed in the wrong direction, you may get a great view, but it won’t tell you much about the intersection you are about to run through.

Step 4: Run don’t walk
Once you have the mirror in place and positioned, you must learn to use and trust it. This can take time, but practice makes perfect. Leveraging CI to see around corners is only half the battle, you must also work to create a culture where leadership trusts the system in place. Trusting your CI process enables your organization to move through each intersection, even the blind ones, with speed and confidence.

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