The best leaders don’t hesitate to confront the brutal facts that define current reality, and it reinforces their confidence. They know that problems can be solved and that at their core they are problem solvers…and love the challenge of solving problems.
Successful business journeys start with understanding the current reality by asking three simple questions:
- Where are we now?
- What’s working here?
- What’s not working here?
Sounds simple, but these are vast questions. They cover every aspect of your company, your category, your competition, your customers and consumers. They demand that you acknowledge where your competitors have an edge, where your customers are less than fully satisfied, where your business model has flaws. They demand that you appreciate both the positive trends and the negative ones.
From the perspective of Reality, there is not good or bad. There is only what is. Reality must be seen clearly, it must be seen broadly, and it must be seen from multiple perspectives.
Can’t see it all yet? Got blind spots? What a fine opportunity! You have so many tools for gaining clarity:
- Survey or interview customers, consumers, thought leaders, or stakeholders
- Study existing research
- Analyze raw data from multiple angles
- Discuss with colleagues
- Discuss with strangers
- Brainstorm alone or in a group
The goal is not to generate a bunch of facts, but rather to create rich insights that reveal underlying causes. This is not a process that can be rushed. Generating ten robust hypotheses and testing them will get you further in the end than having one premature, mediocre conclusion.
All journeys start with where you are. If you don’t know here, how can you possibly chart a course to there?