Seeing the Opportunity Beyond

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill

Op·por·tu·ni·ty: (äpərˈt(y)o͞onitē) Noun: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

Seeing what others don’t…

Opportunities in healthcare are everywhere. When I say this, I don’t just mean that opportunities to exploit or capitalize on the loopholes of a dying industry exist, I mean real game-changing, value adding, prosperity yielding opportunity! To take advantage of those opportunities, you first have to develop the skill of seeing what others don’t.

In business we are well trained at how to root out and respond to negative variances between what is and what we want something to be. Review of key performance indicators are often set up within organizations to scan for areas the organization might be ‘falling out’, find the gaps in performance. When negative variances are found, a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is used to take a deeper dive into the cause and a plan of correction is developed. This methodology has served business well for over 100 years, through the industrial age and beyond. About a quarter century ago, an emerging thought began to be published about how organizations, industries, and societies could harvest opportunities with the process of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI is the process of looking at a system for positive variances from the expected, and then taking the effort to better understand why the positive variance occurred. The process is generally summarized in four steps:

Discover- Find a systematic way to be on the hunt for positive variances and examples of what is going right in your organization.

Dream- Take the positive examples to their logical conclusion. This is brainstorming that extrapolates the possibilities that could be gained, ‘What would the organization look like if this process was applied to other systems in the organization?’, or ‘How far could we harness the potential of this unexpected occurrence?’

Design- What positive relationships or organizational strengths do we need to build upon for the potential of this opportunity to be unleashed?

Deliver/Destiny- Develop the new opportunity to the fullest!

I believe the best system monitoring tools include scanning for both positive as well as negative variances. Fit systems have processes in place to get to the root of all variances and the ability to make most of the opportunities they present.

Look through the seven windows of innovative opportunity…

(Adapted from Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Peter Drucker)

Within your industry

The unexpected- the unexpected success, the unexpected failure, the unexpected event
The incongruity- between reality as it actually is and reality as it is assumed to be or as it ‘ought to be’
Innovation based on process need (to manage complexity or variability)
Changes in industry structure or market structure

Outside your industry

Demographics (populations changes)
Changes in perception, mood, and meaning
New knowledge, both scientific and nonscientific

Shawna Beese-Bjurstrom, RN, MBA lives in Spokane, WA with her family where she is an Executive/Business Coach. She writes on issues such as healthcare strategy, operational excellence, communication, and leadership, read her blog.

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