Tips for effective opportunity identification

20130217-214258.jpgI just spent a couple of relaxing days in Bermuda, getting away from the recent cold and snowy weather in Canada, with the intent of playing a round of golf and creating my presentation for an upcoming project management conference.

Being a practicing advocate of risk management, I checked the weather forecast in the days leading up to my trip and learned, to much chagrin, that a significant rain system would be parked over the islands for the duration of my trip. While this would certainly help with my creative writing plans, it would put a crimp in my golfing plans.

As the day of my departure drew closer, I learned that the likelihood of the bad weather risk being realized was almost 100%. At that point, I felt it would be wise to NOT take any of my golf gear and use the freed up space in my luggage for appropriate rain wear.

I’m thankful that as I was finishing my packing, someone who is a lot more optimistic than I am convinced me to take the bare minimum golfing necessities (e.g. Lucky hat, shoes, balls). Although it was absolutely pouring when we landed, the skies cleared sufficiently on the morning of the second day to allow me to play a full round (and it rained the rest of the trip!) as the photo accompanying this article shows.

So what can be learned from this story?

  • Opportunity identification should be done separate from threat identification as its very challenging for most folks to effectively context switch between these two types of risks in the same discussion.
  • Just as it takes some “cup is half empty” people to identify plausible risks, it requires some rose-colored glass wearing ones to see opportunities.
  • Not all opportunities can be identified as you start planning – this reinforces the need for whole lifecycle risk identification.

I’d love to close out this week’s article boasting about my scratch score for the lucky Bermuda round, but I’ll take some solace in the popular golf saying that the worst day on a golf course beats the best day at work!

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