You’ve faced big problems and opportunities in your life. Sometimes you’ve resolved the problems smoothly and capitalized quickly on the opportunities. Other times, the problem festered and the opportunity slipped away. The difference in outcome is determined by the environment you create to find solutions to the problems and capitalize upon the opportunities.
The bigger the problem or opportunity, the more time you need
I’ve spent a good deal of time over the last six months working out the best way to capitalize upon a significant opportunity. I’ve been patient for a couple of reasons. First, there is a very real possibility that if we do this wrong, the big opportunity becomes a big problem. Second, it’s a complex opportunity with several levels of development, distribution and revenue sharing to be considered. Seldom in my life have I been patient but I decided to give it a try with this project
Patience pays dividends
Early on, the scope of your opportunity or problem is not likely to be clear. Take the time to collect the information in whatever form it comes to you. It could be little scraps of notepaper with thoughts and ideas captured. It might be ideas in your head or scribbled in your notebook. It could be an idea that comes from a partner in the form of an email. The point is to pay attention to the information flow and keep building a clearer picture either in your head or on paper somewhere.
When you feel ready, create the environment to create an answer
This is tricky because your environment to create probably looks different from my environment. For example, it helps me to get out of my office and work in a coffee shop to get writing like this post done. However, that’s a solo activity and big problems and opportunities almost always require a creative team of at least two to achieve the ultimate outcome.
Once I felt like I had all the pieces of the puzzle in my head, I met with Shelby over a couple of cocktails. The goal was to shut out distractions and focus solely on the opportunity before us. It wasn’t our first time batting this opportunity back and forth, but it was the first time we focused only on this topic. I scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin. Then, she grabbed it and added her scribbles (okay you could actually read hers).
Over the course of about 90 minutes, we determined the overall scope of the opportunity by uncovering the critical factor for the project to succeed. In our case, this was a pricing matrix that made clear the scope of our offering and the complexity of marketing it. In short, the road forward became crystal clear after six months of looking like a winding country road enveloped by fog.
Create solutions by creating a conducive environment
Once you have the critical factor at least partially defined, it’s time to just let the ideas flow. Don’t go it alone. Ideas that can survive the input of a creative team are the ideas that move forward. Sometime next week, I’ll share the importance of the creative team Shelby and I have created over the last nine months.