What Skiing Can Teach Us About Taking Advantage of ‘Adverse’ Conditions - Spring2 Innovation

What Skiing Can Teach Us About Taking Advantage of ‘Adverse’ Conditions

January 25, 2016

Two weekends ago I was out skiing and it rained for most of the day. This was all too similar to how it can rain at work and organizations miss out on opportunities when they shy away from ‘bad conditions’ rather than looking at it as an opportunity. I could have let the ‘bad weather’ deter me from going skiing but then I would have missed out on phenomenal ski conditions.

On the hill: The snow conditions were actually spectacular for skiing but my goggles kept getting fogged up by the rain. I had to take them off and wipe them clean or remove them altogether at times.  If you are a skier or snowboarder you will understand how useful goggles are for skiing in all sorts of weather conditions. When the sun is too bright, they shelter our eyes from the sun. When there is snow or there is too much wind, they block out the snow and wind so that we can continue conquering the hill.  Goggles help keep our vision clear and consistent.

In Organizations: Goggles are similar to business processes and reports in organizations. The processes and reports are there to keep the organization moving forward in most conditions.  At times, when using goggles, the conditions add a layer of ice or rain to our vision and obstruct us from being able to see clearly. We can either take off the goggles or remove barriers that blur our vision. The same applies to organizations. In order to take advantage of rough conditions, organizations need to set aside or revise ‘normal’ processes, reports and guidelines. Like reducing the Internal Rate of Return on new initiatives or looking outside of the Rate of Return for things like increased flexibility in the future. After a while, processes and perspectives need to be changed up to continue to see clearly.

Most organizations have a hard time seeing abnormal situations as opportunities and stay away, but with minor adjustments the conditions can be better than normal. Like with skiing, where there are shorter lineups on ‘bad’ days, there is less competition for organizations in challenging environments. What most people would have considered poor ski conditions turned out to be an incredible day. I just needed to make changes and remove my usual protective gear every now and then to take full advantage of the opportunity.

What are you doing to clean your organizational goggles to take advantage of opportunities?