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C-suite executives and leaders have a lot on their plates when it comes to successful management of their business or organization. They are in control of the organization’s image, a diverse team of individuals with diverse talents coming together to complete specific tasks, and the successful and timely implementation of multiple projects at any given time.

That is a lot to be responsible for, but as we all know, change is the only constant in the business world. My Anticipatory Organization® Model notes that digital disruption is starting to alleviate some of the need to manage traditional tasks that managers and other business leaders have long managed before. With this transformation, the tasks of managers and business leaders alike are starting to change as well.

What some leaders overlook now is their actual role as managers — the management of perception and distraction.

Perception and Distraction Affect Your Organization

Perception refers to how you and your employees view projects, the company, and customers. Conversely, perception is how customers view your company, its products, and how you solve their own troubles. How each of these elements interact with one another is a determining factor in the significance of your organization and, likewise, how perception turns into reality.

Put simply, perception originates internally and then extends outward. This implies that perception, much like disruption in an Anticipatory Organization, is within your control and can be managed by you and your team. The way you perceive yourselves and your team has a profound impact on your actions, strategies, and the success of the products you introduce.

These actions and products then determine the value customers attach to your organization and how they distinguish you from the competition. It does not happen the other way around. As such, the way you manage perception becomes either an asset to your organization or terribly detrimental!

Now, let’s shift our focus to managing distraction. Unlike perception, which involves creating transformation from the inside out, distraction often originates externally and moves inward, manifesting as disruption and change. Uncontrolled disruption becomes a distraction in its own right, diverting your attention from what truly matters and forcing you, as a leader, to handle crises with agility as an afterthought

So, since perception and distraction are what must be managed more frequently by the business leaders and managers of today, how can this be done to your strategic and competitive advantage instead of leaving them to cause you the stress of setbacks?

Skipping Problems with a Change in Perception

Perception often originates from within the organization, making it vital to see your team as a competitive advantage and a strategic asset for the business. Your team, comprised of critical thinkers and hardworking individuals, plays a significant role in the development and implementation of new products and services. It all starts with you, the business leader, viewing your team through this lens, which, in turn, will incentivize your employees to recognize and act as the valuable asset they truly are.

How does this impact perception of products, services, and customers? By becoming a positive outlook on the organization itself, the adjustment in perception affects how your employees perceive problems they encounter both at the organizational and customer level, tying in with my Skip It Principle.

Do customers perceive a product as being too pricey? Is your company software too slow? Or is it something different entirely? Having a team with a properly managed internal perception helps them effectively challenge the perceived problems that may be holding your organization back as a whole, especially since a perceived problem is not always the real root issue.

Venmo — an app owned by PayPal — allows friends, family, and others to exchange money electronically with no fees. To begin, Venmo had few users, but why was that? Was it a lack of necessity for customers? Was the app difficult to use? These were the questions facing the internal teams at PayPal.

While these questions were concerning, leaders and employees at PayPal refined their perception to skip those perceived problems and instead focus on the opportunity at hand. Customers liked the app, but what they needed most was convenience.

Thus, they launched a marketing campaign on how to use Venmo in stores with just a smartphone. No more need to go to ATMs for cash or carry countless credit cards, as Venmo does it all safely. As a result of this change in their perception of customer needs, Venmo exploded in popularity, becoming one of the most used apps for exchanging money.

Jump to Manage Opportunities Instead of Distractions

Because distractions come from outside of your organization in the form of various disruptions and changes, suddenly a business leader’s attention is held hostage and they have to crisis manage more frequently. Unfortunately, too much crisis management as a business leader shifts the company into neutral, where they become vulnerable to disruption rather than in control of it.

Instead of a reactive approach that involves managing disruption as it happens to avoid distraction, true industry leaders and innovators adopt my Anticipatory Leader approach, which centers on proactively staying ahead of disruption. I’ve taught this approach to many, and it has proven to be highly effective.

The Anticipatory Leader approach leverages Hard Trend future certainties with Soft Trend future possibilities to anticipate disruptions before they occur, turning disruption into opportunity. This doesn’t just minimize distraction, it allows leaders to manage opportunity instead!

Palo Alto Networks is a cybersecurity business that was founded using anticipatory thinking about the internet and digital technology. The need for businesses to protect classified information online is a Hard Trend future certainty, which the founders of Palo Alto Networks recognized and capitalized on as an opportunity to successfully launch their cybersecurity business.

What would have happened if the founders at Palo Alto Networks were left distracted by trying to avoid the issue of security breaches instead of pre-solving the problem the way they did? They likely wouldn’t exist!

In today’s era of transformation, prioritizing the management of a business or organization’s perceptions and distractions is crucial. However, it’s important to recognize that business leaders and managers have more on their plates to manage. While embracing digitally disruptive technology can streamline certain mundane tasks, effective management also entails attending to the very human aspects of leadership.

Take action now and prioritize fostering critical thinking within your team! Empower them to find a deep sense of significance in their contributions to the organization. This will be the key to staying ahead of disruption and minimizing distractions. Act today for a more innovative and focused future!

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