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Using foresight to expand your strike zone

Your organization is good at something, or tries to be. It works for opportunities in a certain part of the marketplace. That part of the whole is the organization’s “strike zone.”

But that zone may be too limited for your ongoing success, especially as change unfolds around you. Areas outside that zone have potential too. They may be where the best opportunities are.

This, of course, is a baseball metaphor. And we can take it a little further.

Where’s the best “pitch” to hit? Is it in the zone of opportunities you already pursue? Can you, and should you, expand that zone? 

Ted Williams was sort of wrong

Baseball great Ted Williams wrote a book called The Science of Hitting (1970). He had been a phenomenal ball player who by 1970 was managing the Washington Senators.

In his book, he explained how to maximize success by knowing what pitches to hit. And the ideal pitches are specific to the batter.

There is wisdom in what he wrote. And smart organizational leaders follow a similar line. Even Warren Buffett, is a fan of Williams’ book and approach. Go for what you can hit well.

But organizations too often follow this to a fault. “Stick to our core business” they say. (That’s their “happy zone” in Ted Williams’ phrasing). “Don’t chase low-odds opportunities.”

Williams taught that expanding the zone in which you’ll swing the bat only gives the savvy opponent (his opposing pitcher, and your marketplace reality) a stronger chance of beating you. He did not focus on expanding your zone of capabilities, to expand your opportunities. But sometimes, that’s what an organization needs to do. Foresight can help guide that process, at least by showing you where to look.

How does foresight help?

1). It helps you understand your strike zone, its limits, and whether the opportunities there are growing or declining. Pitchers are like your marketplace, and pitchers around your league have figured you out. You may not get enough good opportunities any more, especially as the marketplace changes.

2). It shows you what’s beyond your strike zone, and motivates you to look at moving there. Where else are there opportunities?

You need to change your approach. The futurist is your batting coach. I’m happy to join you in the batting cage!

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If you enjoyed this baseball metaphor, here’s another from a while back:

As long as you do what’s conventional, you won’t be accused of a blunder

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