The hunt for opportunities

opportunity-1“Opportunity” is one of those euphemisms we use instead of “problems.” It’s arguably a better word, because most operating problems are, in fact opportunities for an organization to improve. Before we take on a project for a client, we do what we call an “opportunity analysis,” which is like a financial and operational due-diligence. A key purpose of the analysis is to identify opportunities that exist in the current process and, more generally, the magnitude of the total opportunity. But given the complex nature of many organizations, where do we look for opportunity?

To help structure our thinking, we break down organizations (or specific functions or processes) into four separate, but interrelated areas: product, process, management systems, and organizational behavior. Within each of these four areas there are a number of things we look for, and a range of studies we can apply. One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that although organizations are complex and can differ significantly from one another (even within the same industry), there are a number of operating problems (i.e. opportunities) that are quite common.

In this era of hyper-competition, managers are constantly being asked to improve the productivity or effectiveness of their area of responsibility. This series is designed to provide insight into some of the more common opportunities we see across many diverse types of organizations and industry sectors. While not everything will be applicable to all organizations, we are sure you will find many ideas that can help you in the never-ending hunt for opportunity.