Business is full of surprises. From unexpected expenses to unforeseeable outcomes, it’s impossible to continually predict what will happen as we operate from one day to the next. But, in order to open new possibilities, possibly we should be inviting in more surprises and more unknowns.
In his new book, “Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs,” author Soren Kaplan suggests that to offer our clients something unexpected, we have to ourselves invite in the unexpected. Kaplan argues it’s learning how to manage the ambiguity that leads us to the big breakthrough ideas that will delightfully surprise clients and crumble competition.
When I read Kaplan’s book, I was enamored. As leaders, we daily do all we can to keep a thousand little fires from growing into uncontrollable flames. Our efforts are spent trying to anticipate industry changes and strategically position ourselves to avoid (or at least ride out) the next storm. It’s the proactive thinking that gives us the ammunition to survive, but often times we do all we can to eliminate the unknown instead of inviting it to come inside.
Welcoming unpredictability goes against basic business fundamentals. Business leaders are typically hardwired to steam forward by building well-oiled machines that deflect wrenches when they are thrown their way. As leaders, we hash out strategies, map our goals and formulate plans that account for as many variables as we can possibly include. But, even with all this effort and sweat equity, surprises are still going to, well, surprise us. Instead of spending long nights anticipating the unexpected, how would our strategies change if we adopted ways to invite surprises and incorporate them once they revealed themselves? Is it possible that doing so could expand our vision from beyond the straightforward path we have spent so much effort keeping surprise-free?
As Kaplan states in the first chapter of Leapfrogging, “Individuals, groups and organizations that leapfrog old ways of doing things often become the new leaders of the future.” Furthermore, it’s not just the ability to leapfrog old ways, it’s the ability to leapfrog our own mindsets that will help us grow into something truly special–something truly unexpected.
Leapfrogging – a new book by Soren Kaplan. http://www.leapfrogging.com/book/