HBS Working Knowledge has an excerpt from a new book “Heads Up: How to Anticipate Business Surprises and Seize Opportunities First” by Gartner’s Kenneth McGee:
In many ways, it is difficult to understand why real-time surveillance, like that aboard airplanes, of critical day-to-day business events is not more readily incorporated into the daily regimen of employees, managers, executives, and even board directors. After all, the notion of monitoring, capturing, analyzing, reporting, and responding to critical information is not an alien concept in our day-to-day activities.
* We depend on real-time information about the time of day to make it to meetings on time.
* We rely on thermostats in our homes and office buildings to respond instantly with more heat or air conditioning when the temperature rises or drops beyond a certain point.
* We expect the gauges in our cars to reflect real-time information on our speed (especially when we see a semi-concealed police car) and fuel status.
* We watch the meter at the self-service gas pump to make certain we stop the flow of gas when we reach the desired amount.
* We use smoke and fire detectors to warn us immediately of danger, especially while we are asleep.
* We even use temperature-sensitive pop-up buttons to tell us when to take a Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven.
We are surrounded by examples of real-time monitoring, capturing, analyzing, reporting, and responding to events. Despite the damage caused by business surprises attributable to an absence of real-time information and the prevalence of real-time information in our personal lives, little is being done to change the business culture and processes that tolerate surprises and to begin using real-time opportunity detection.