What knowledge and skills we need to succeed in the upcoming uncertain era?
A few thousand years back, humanity made a bold choice. People stopped being hunters and began being farmers. Most determined that a life of relative comfort and predictability was better than one of risk and constant movement. You may think they made a smart move, but in fact this change led to humanity’s becoming lazier and more complacent, something that affects us to this day.
Well take a look at any company industry, and you will find leaders who embody farmer mentality: people too indifferent, fearful or put in their ways to change. More often than not, these folks fail. There are others, however, who have clung to the life of the hunter; they’re quick to act, ready to be brutal and never afraid to take risks. These are the people you ought to emulate. Actually, you just have to know about becoming a hunter, letting you be successful in today’s constantly changing world.
Three “Farmer Traps” — complacency, repetition and overprotectiveness — stand in the way of success.
Every business leader believes they have what it takes to be successful. They are smart enough to know what has to be done and stubborn enough to overcome any obstacle that stands in their way.
Nonetheless, failure in business is as common as dirt. And that’s because the folks at the top — especially those in fast-changing industries — often fall into one of the three so-called farmer traps.
For instance, look at typewriter manufacturer Smith Corona, a former industry giant who became complacent and failed to adapt to the changing market. In 1990, the company pulled out of a joint venture with computer giant Acer, because they believed their company was too powerful to be exposed to market change. Three decades later, Smith Corona declared bankruptcy; they’d been crushed from the emerging computer industry.
Similarly, farmer trap #2 happens when you repeat activities that brought success in the past and expect the same outcome in the present.
Blockbuster Video is the best example of a company that crumbled because it dropped into the Farmer Trap of repetition: in 2009, the franchise boasted 9,000 locations and 60,000 employees. But just a year later, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy: the firm had failed to adapt to the streaming market, continuing to direct almost all their funds into franchising and physical media.
Ultimately, farmer trap #3 describes a state of protectiveness. This happens when firms set up barriers that protect the status quo and inhibit evolution.
For example, film manufacturer Kodak missed some wonderful opportunities because they were too protective of the elite status in the analog film market. But that was a huge mistake: the company’s unwillingness to invest funds into digital invention led them to declare bankruptcy in 2012.
Cultivate your ”Hunter Instincts” — insatiability, curiosity and a willingness to ruin.
As we’ve discovered, it’s easy to fall into one of those farmer traps. But luckily, it’s also possible to prevent them by cultivating the 3 hunter instincts.
First, do not be complacent; rather, be insatiable. Because insatiability — always scanning the horizon for another opportunity — is the core of hunter instinct #1.
Capital One Bank is a great example of a business driven by this instinct. After the 2008 financial crisis, the lender poured their resources into innovation and experimentation. Because of this, they soon boasted a billion-dollar portfolio of low-risk assets. In other words, by focusing on innovation, the bank successfully adapted to the market; meanwhile, almost all of its competitors suffered a credit crunch.
Moving on: hunter instinct #2 rejects repetitiveness in favor of curiosity — the drive to find fresh and new sources of inspiration. How else will you spot new trends and develop your next small business success?
After all, innovation happens when people take creative mental leaps, connecting fields in ways others could not have imagined. And to make those kinds of connections, you’ve got to be curious.
Take entrepreneur Ron Finley as a prime illustration of this principle. For Finley, his Los Angeles neighbourhood was a source of inspiration, causing him to success in a variety of fields, from style to urban gardening to social outreach.
Finally, hunter instinct #3 reminds us that we need to have a willingness to ruin. Rather than being overprotective and cautious, you have to be ready to abandon your safety net if you want to encounter new ideas and opportunities.
In actuality, the willingness to destroy is exactly what explains chef Eric Ripert’s decades-long success. He’s been able to sustain the coveted three-star Michelin rating for many, many years, regardless of the fact he constantly throws out old menus and begins again from scratch, fully embracing the new.
So now we understand how to wake our hunter instincts, it is time to learn how to put them into practice.
Determine future business trends by following the six patterns of opportunity, starting with Convergence and Divergence.
It’s time to place your hunter instincts into practice: there are six situations, or patterns of opportunity, that will allow you to spot new business models and products, giving you a serious competitive edge.
Let us begin with two of these patterns: convergence and divergence. The prior, convergence, is about taking advantage of market chaos to create opportunity by mixing and incorporating the right trends. After all, you can make a winning idea by combining multiple services and products.
For instance, the successful iPhone fitness and running program,”Zombies, Run! ,” employs convergence by combining three things: GPS technology, the lucrative fitness market and the popular zombie trend. As you can see, combining several appealing patterns and businesses is a terrific way of providing value to customers.
The next routine, divergence, takes a different approach by dividing out a competitive edge through a unique perspective that diverges in the overcrowded mainstream. Designing a product that taps into compelling alternative notions like rebellion, status or luxury will make it possible for you to stick out from the crowd.
The secret to successfully pulling off the divergence approach is advertising; to be able to stick out from the competition, you need to turn your greatest weakness into your greatest advantage.
And that is exactly what Red Bull did, becoming one of the most prosperous beverage brands, despite their less-than-palatable product. The company succeeded by using a savvy advertising strategy that communicated an exciting and exceptional brand. Ultimately, the business proved that with the ideal marketing plan, you can harness the energy of divergence and create successful products and services that stand out.
Harness the power of momentum by using Cyclicality and Redirection to create a competitive advantage.
Let’s move on to the next two patterns of opportunity: Cyclicality and Redirection. These two approaches are all about harnessing the power of momentum, by doing things like, for instance, forecasting trends and figuring out how to take advantage of predictably recurring elements such as aesthetic appeal, nostalgia, economic cycles and generational patterns.
This point speaks directly to cyclicality, which requires you to nurture a sense of history that will permit you to look beyond the moment and anticipate what’s next. This can be a highly effective way of carving out chance: consider the fact that all sorts of businesses — spirits companies and auto makers, fashion brands and food products — have managed to reinvigorate their businesses by tapping into cyclical patterns and taking advantage of nostalgia.
Just look at the success of Instagram, a product that combines nostalgia with the social media photo-sharing trend. These two simple elements are in the heart of the world-famous program, which imbues user-generated photos with a vintage-like quality.
The next pattern, redirection, aims to channel the power of a fashion or behaviour by refocusing, reprioritizing or reversing it. This is basically the art of”spin” — turning a potentially negative narrative upside down, using the momentum of a trend to your own advantage and inspiring desire for your product from the process.
Through well-crafted redirection, you may produce an appealing positive narrative out of something more negative. Just look at Volvo: by using the slogan,”They are boxy but they’re good,” the auto company launched a successful advertising campaign that attracted attention to the car’s safety features. By playing up the safety aspect, Volvo neutralized the car’s unpopular design and ultimately increased sales.
Tap into Discount and Acceleration — two patterns of opportunity — to carve out a market niche.
Let’s learn about the two remaining patterns of chance: reduction and acceleration. These are both proven procedures for finding a specific market, making a winning business idea and becoming a better innovator, decision-maker and investor.
Reduction involves targeting niche audiences with a product or service that stands out because of its extreme simplicity. Doing this gets to the heart of a business concept using crowdsourcing and localization to remove any unneeded parts.
In other words, by identifying and then skillfully removing all the complex layers of existing products, you can create value and split success out in a small market. And that will open up many more possibilities.
As it happens, reduction explains the wild popularity of GoPro, an easy-to-use, wide-angle, two-button camera which has proven irresistible to a particular group of consumers eager to capture their adventurous exploits.
The following pattern of opportunity, acceleration, relies on the practice of perfecting, exaggerating, reimagining or repositioning key product features as a means of differentiating yourself from the competition. To do that, you have to identify a vital feature of an existing product or business concept that you then radically enhance. In other words, figure out what is great about an idea and then accelerate it; making it bigger, quicker or better will engage customers.
To that end, just look at Dyson: the brand established itself as the world standard for luxury vacuum cleaners after they refined the device to make the most powerful vacuum in the marketplace. It took 5,127 prototypes to get there, but it was worth itin 1991, James Dyson won the International Design Fair trophy for his ultra-powerful and efficient product.
Identify a ”hunting ground” by narrowing your focus and tracking your chosen industry.
Wake up your”inner hunter” Get used to the six patterns of opportunity. Done all that? Great! You can now start narrowing your focus and zero in on a great business idea.
Of course, finding the nugget of a successful idea is easier said than done. The key is to establish a”hunting ground” and identify a cluster of opportunity — some group of products, services or concepts with a similar approach. Then, you use the six patterns of opportunity to reframe the fundamental idea and make it special.
But do not limit your searching ground by only researching and collecting ideas that are obviously similar. Instead, look beyond your immediate marketplace to find clever approaches to similar targets. That’s the best way to make something truly unique.
For example, instead of creating a simple pop-up store concept, use convergence to establish a”Double Business.” 1 artist, Karl Lagerfeld, did just that when he combined a pop-up style shop with an art gallery.
However, no matter what industry you decide to work within, you have to be able to forecast future trends before they actually occur. Luckily, whether you’re hunting ground involves pictures, fashion, tech, retail, broadcast media or food, you can use the six patterns to find future opportunities.
In the fashion field, by way of instance, retailers such as Zara and H&M have reached success by providing consumers with more choice. In actuality, Zara became one of the fastest-growing retailers by both speeding up their manufacturing process — they only need 14 days to get a newly-designed merchandise into stores — and by providing thousands of unique things at any given moment.
But what’s next? By applying convergence to the fashion industry, we can forecast the growth of trends like wearable technology, 3D printed clothes and more. And the companies that figure out how to capitalize on those trends now will be dominant in the future.
Today’s market is far more unpredictable and chaotic than previously. To be successful in this tumultuous environment, you must embrace change. Do this by awakening your inner hunter and exploiting patterns of chance. This way, you’ll have the ability to adapt quickly — to not only survive, but to flourish.
Cyclicality is one of the most persistent and prevalent patterns of chance. Whatever your field, you can benefit from the pattern by following four simple takeaways.
- Expect repetition: look for clues which may lead to opportunity.
- Act fast: cyclical opportunities can be momentary.
- Expect the certainty of development for a competitive edge by preparing for what’s next.
- Look beyond what others see: major forces and firms can create cascading opportunities. Dare to tap in these less-obvious and potential opportunities.