Spotting and exploiting opportunities in sport and active leisure – 14 notes, ideas and suggestions

1. Many, many years ago, the British Admiralty turned down the invention of the wireless telegraphy because the noble Sea Lords were quite content with their system of using men on hilltops to signal to each other using semaphore flags

2. Many people and organisation in the sport and active leisure sector have been very successful in spotting and exploiting opportunities whereas others, often from within top-heavy, centralised organisations have found it very difficult to be innovative.

3. You need to combine method and motivation. Method without motivation ends up on shelf and motivation without method is ineffective

4. You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper. “We have always done it this way” approach will not help you develop compelling propositions

5. Ideas without information are pretty worthless. Information without ideas can still be useful. The best of all is abundant information, supplemented by ideas. The mistake which so many people make, is to assume that collecting more information will do away with the need for ideas

6. Often people are trained to solve problems as they arise. The notion of throwing up ideas for no good reason is alien to many and those ideas are rarely used as few organisations know ‘how to handle new ideas.’ This is why the notion of the Opportunity Search is such a great one as it provides a framework that excites and focuses the creativity of the executives

7. Many people are too busy solving the everyday short-term problems that they ignore the important medium and long-term opportunities and therefore they rarely get ahead

8. Re-active thinking includes problem-solving and judgement, whereas pro-active thinking includes creativity and opportunity-seeking. Problem-solving without opportunity-seeking leads to stagnation and decline

9. If you only come up with solutions when the problem is ‘blocking the road’ you will always be panicking and fire fighting

10. If the penalty for coming up with an idea that didn’t work is bigger than the reward for coming up with a great idea – the no one will be putting forward any ideas.

11. Badly run organisations tend to assume that all their troubles are external (the economy, the government, regulations, etc) and that there is nothing wrong with their thinking. Successful ones feel they are successful because of the competence of their thinking, culture and skills and they regard external problems as difficulties to overcome.

12. Complacent organisations do not learn nor study. Why bother yourself with that new stuff if you already know everything? Complacency is not usually the characteristic of someone who is genuinely interested in a subject

13. Too many people find uncertainty uncomfortable and take the “Don’t waste time dabbling in what might be but get on with what is”. Since opportunity search involves uncertainty at least at two stages – the uncertainty of even finding an area of opportunity and the uncertainty that it will prove invaluable – such minds are reluctant to get involved in an opportunity search.

14. With a problem you search for the solution, with an opportunity you search for the benefit.

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