Imagine you were your competition. Now – as your competition – create a plan to put yourselves out of business.
This may not seem like the question you would want to be asking yourself. One goal of every organization is at the least to stay in business, if not even thrive.
Because we never do is exactly why I recently asked a leadership team to answer that exact question.
After I asked the question, there was some nervous laughter in the room. Was I serious??
Yep, dead serious. I answered the laughter with a statement that said I meant business:
“(X Company) has plenty of vulnerabilities. Our job is to find each one and use it to our advantage. Exploit it. Find where they’re weak and vulnerable so we can put them out of business, once and for all.”
I wanted to make sure I tipped the scales clearly away from nice and appropriate behavior. This task doesn’t lead to insights unless people are ruthless in dissecting their own business.
Asking questions no one else is asking enables you to find what others have not found. Find your vulnerabilities before your competitors do. It’s easier, faster and cheaper to prevent a problem than find and fix it later.
Good companies focus externally on the competition, industry trends, and learning what’s needed to compete. They also look internally – at processes, culture, how they’re designed and many other aspects of the business. One thing they seldom if ever do: look at their organization through the eyes of their competition.
Every time I’ve led leadership teams through this task, they’ve been surprised by what they’ve discovered. What did my clients in this story learn? They identified that their single greatest business threat was cybercrime. This insight was especially valuable because they got it one day after the IT team had made a presentation that had not included security as a top priority for the coming year.
Road test this task with your team or a client you’re working with if you’re a consultant. I’m interested to hear how it goes.