Patterns & Insights

Balance Success with Healthy Paranoia

by | Apr 12, 2018 | business model, innovation, strategy

You and your business partners have had a really great run – a successful year or quarter. You are feeling really good about things. There are likely a whole lot of things that you did right to achieve the recent success. However, how are you going to maintain a healthy level of paranoia to keep you in position for continued business growth?

Enhancing and maintaining those successful runs starts with sustaining a healthy dose of paranoia and raising your awareness of any behaviors in yourself or in your team that could be signs you are in a danger zone.

Avoid These Pitfalls:

To keep your good streak alive, avoid these behaviors:

Trajectory Complacency

For successful organizations, the tendency to develop a view of the future that is “up and to the right” so to speak is a trap that is easy to fall into. I’ve spoken before about the dangers of the tendency to plan with an assumption that you can assume the future will be a trend continuation of the past – trajectory planning . One way to mitigate that risk of trajectory complacency is to build a culture and planning process that includes a healthy dose of paranoia into your scenario planning. Ask good questions, the ones that may not be as popular or even feel right, but could help you assure the long term health of your business or even identify an incredible unaddressed opportunity.

Market Transition Denial or Ignorance

In some ways this is related to trajectory complacency because it is a situation in which you and your team do not consider the possibility of a vastly different universe. There are countless business cases on entreprenuers who challenged the status quo and disrupted industries as well as those established companies who abruptly found themselves struggling to maintain markets they previously owned.

When you are winning, having a great year, take time to evaluate the broader set of influences that could rock your world and your current market success.

Just a few examples to consider are the following:

• How do age demographics play in your market? Just last week, the results of the US Census confirmed that for the first time ever, millennials outnumbered baby boomers.
• What about ethnic cultures? Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 91.7% of population growth in the US according to the 2010 US Census.
• Are you holding on to communications media (as a means of delivering or marketing your goods and services) that are not effectively leveraging the power of social and digital media? Or, alternatively are you jumping on the social bandwagon but without understanding or consideration of  which channels and “watering holes” matter for your specific target buyers?

Declaring Yourselves Extraordinary

This is the situation where you might have found yourself at the right place and at the right time, and to your credit and the credit of your team – you capitalized. There is clearly room for some self-satisfaction here because after all, the ability to execute and to recognize when the stars are aligned and act are both attributes of many successful entrepreneurs. The red flag is that you could be giving yourself just a bit too much credit. A recent study which examined our culture of entitlement concluded that we are hesitant to attribute success to luck. As such, “when we reap rewards for literally being in the right place at the right time, we interpret it as confirmation we are innately extraordinary.”

So celebrate, toast your success, but maintain your healthy paranoia by watching for those red flags! At Lumen Strategies, we facilitate exploration of your strategies for go-to-market to help you identify both the risks that behaviors above can create as well as find jewels of opportunity. Contact us here if you would like to learn more.

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