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How to Sense What’s Emerging in Your Business

So, here’s some non-news for you. There’s a lot of complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity in the world. There always has been. Funny thing is though, so many of us choose to ignore this fact when planning for our businesses.

Chances are, you set your 2023 back in September or October of 2022. And chances are, given the aforementioned complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, things are already not going to plan.

I hear it from my clients every day. Pipelines are drying up, deals are crumbling, financing is delayed, layoffs are happening, and customers are disappearing.

If you’re experiencing these things, know that you’re not alone. We may or may not be in a recession, but everyone is certainly acting as if we are.

What we’re seeing are non-linear changes within a series of interdependent complex systems. We call these changes global political instability, inflation, and rising interest rates among many other things. But in systems leadership theory, these changes are called Emergence. And the thing about emergence is that because it’s non-linear, we’re often surprised by it. Hence our not so accurate financial forecasts for 2023.

I think we all have at least a notion of the emerging effects of AI and possibly AR in the coming years. But what else is emerging? What else will you be worried about next year? Or where will there be opportunity?

Emergence is happening all around us all the time. Markets change, new technologies evolve, discoveries are made, business relationships shift, customers say things, competitors do things, suppliers change things, and governments regulate things.

So, here’s my challenge to you: Discover one or two (or more) emerging trends in your industry. Bonus points if they have yet to be reported or discussed in the media, be it trade or mainstream.

How do you do this? Well, the clues are everywhere. You just have to know where to look. What might your customers know? Or your suppliers? Perhaps your elected officials, industry association leaders, those in adjacent industries or even leading academics in your field have a perspective you hadn’t considered. And don’t forget your employees and colleagues. Especially those on the front line. The know all kinds of things.

Who else? I don’t know, it’s your industry. But chances are, you know.

So, start talking.

Because the best leaders I know don’t so much set the direction for their businesses as they do listen for it.

Book some coffees, calls and lunches.

What are their goals, worries and challenges? What are they most excited about? Where do they see things headed in the next 5 years? And don’t forget to tell them about your thoughts in return.

You’ll be surprised what you learn.

And if you don’t learn anything new, go back to the drawing board. Find new people to talk to and new questions to ask.

Something out there is emerging. Go find it.

The Emergence Challenge

Talk to 2 people per week for the next 5 weeks.

That’s 10 interviews and 10 opportunities to learn.

Then, review your data. Look for the surprises and connections and themes. That’s where the emergence lies.

What do you do once you spot an emerging trend? That’s up to you. But no matter what it is, you’ll be well ahead of the game. And that’s never a bad thing.

Get to it!

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