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Opportunities

By Edward de Bono (includes links to many of his other books)

Amazon link: Opportunities: A Handbook of Business Opportunity Search

 

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About opportunities

 

Surprising, there isn’t a single review of this wonderful book, which I would seriously consider to be among the best in the genre. Unfortunately, within this genre, there are only a handful of well written books on deliberate opportunity search, which would include Michel Robert’s Innovation Formula.

Most of de bono’s many books touch on the betterment of human thinking. This is the only odd one that focuses on opportunity search. (There is, in fact, another one of his which focuses only on the exploration of success principles. I have reviewed it earlier & it’s entitled ‘Tactics.’)

There are four principal parts in this book:

  • Introduction;
  • People, Attitudes & Opportunities;
  • The Opportunity Audit;
  • Thinking for Opportunities;

Each part is packed with workable ideas & valuable insights.

Unlike most business books, the Introduction of this book is more than an introduction. On its own, it’s a real gem as it gives a detailed preamble of the varied concepts of opportunity search, opportunity space, opportunity audit, opportunity team, idea sensitive areas, opportunity map, making distinctions & generation of ideas.

The remaining three principal areas are gold-mines of strategies & tools to assist a deliberate opportunity search. The Opportunity Audit is the best I have read so far. The If-Box Map is a quick & powerful tool to apply, in spite of its simplicity.

de Bono defines an opportunity as “a course of action that is possible & obviously worth pursuing.” He makes some very interesting observations in this book:

  • “The reasons that many opportunities pass us by is a perceptual one - we do not recognise an opportunity for what it is. An opportunity exists only when we see it.”

  • “Everyone is surrounded by opportunities. But they only exist once they have been seen. And they will only be seen if they are looked for.”

  • That’s why I have always maintained that perceptual sensitivity to the world at large is a very important skill for all of us in today’s rapidly-changing, technology-savvy world.

  • Additionally & very interestingly, he offers possible reasons why we often missed our opportunities:

    • We simply cannot see the opportunity;
    • We can see the opportunity, but cannot see any possible way of evaluating it;
    • We can see that it is a worthwhile opportunity, but cannot see how it can be achieved;
    • We can see that it is a worthwhile opportunity & even how to achieve it, but nevertheless it is not for us;
    • We can see the opportunity, but can also see huge problems with people, resources & money;
    • We can see that it is a worthwhile opportunity, but we have better use of our resources & efforts;
    • We can see that it is a worthwhile opportunity, but in our opinion the risks are too great/rewards too small;

This book is definitely - & undoubtedly - worth pursuing. Instead of waiting for opportunities to knock on your door, I strongly suggest readers to go out there & search deliberately for opportunities, with the aid of this book!


  • Title
  • About Edward de Bono
  • Title page
  • Contents
  • Introduction
    • Hindsight
    • The opportunity search
      • Objective
    • Form of the book
    • Lateral thinking and opportunity search
      • Information and ideas
      • The need for ideas
  • Part I: People attitudes and opportunities
    • The distinction between what is urgent and what is important
      • Minding the store
    • Problem-solving and problem-finding
      • Three types of problem
        • Block type
        • Run out of road type
        • Problem of no Problem
          • Opportunity could have been opened before
            • Doctors starting own insurance company
            • Example 2
            • Example 3
            • Example 4
      • Constructing What if problems
        • Résumé example
        • Databank Example
    • Executive styles
      • About executive styles
      • The train-driver
      • The doctor
      • The farmer
      • The fisherman
    • The opportunity-negative structure
      • No one is to blame
    • Obstacles to opportunity search
      • Organizational
        • Urgent matters always have priority
        • No time to think
        • The style of management
        • Communication is always downward from senior executives to lower levels
        • Opportunity search is always delegated to too great a distance
        • Availability of resources
        • Shortage of expertise in implementing opportunities
        • Shortage of imaginative thinkers
        • Difficulty in obtaining information
        • Risk-taking related to small resources
        • Short-term profit problem
      • Environmental
        • Union involvement and restrictions
        • Legal, government and quasi-government regulations
        • Bureaucratic constraints
        • Tax and price controls
        • Ecological pressures
        • The size of the domestic market
        • Lack of risk capital
      • Personal
        • A tendency to follow trends elsewhere and to borrow ideas
        • A protectionist atmosphere breeds managers who are not competitive
        • Love of a quiet life
        • Preference for reacting to situations rather than thinking about them in advance
        • Preference for action rather than thinking
        • The preferred outcomes encouraged by management training
        • The difficulty of evaluating opportunities once they have been generated
        • Traditional blinkers
        • Lack of encouragement
        • Lack of financial motivation
        • Lack of confidence
        • Lack of focus
        • Lack of technique
      • Comment
    • Cultural attitude towards opportunity
    • Corporate attitude towards opportunity
      • Ride the cycle
      • Survive the pressures
      • Something will turn up
      • Complacency
      • Technology-push fears
      • Fear of an opportunity war
      • Plain caution
      • Disinclination to expand
      • Comment
    • Executive attitude towards opportunity
      • Indifferent
      • Reiuctant
      • Complacent
      • Blocked
    • What is an opportunity?
      • Alternative Views of What Constitutes an Opportunity
      • Why us?
      • Opportunities for expanding and opportunities for contracting
      • Direction, destination and means
      • The thinking involved
    • Levels of opportunity
      • Corporate level
      • Management level
      • Job level
      • Personal level
    • Benefits and motivation
      • Escape benefits and achievement benefits
      • Time course of search for benefits
      • Break-off point
    • The opportunity dilemma
      • The solution
  • Part II: The Opportunity Audit and the Opportunity Team
    • Status of the opportunity search exercise
      • Skill area
      • Coping with an all
      • Channel for upwards communication
      • Problems and opportunities
      • Surveillance
      • Value
    • Elements of the opportunity search exercise
      • Opportunity Audit
      • Opportunity Manager
      • Opportunity Team
      • Opportunity Task Force
      • Purpose
    • The Opportunity Audit
      • Focus
      • Start of the exercise
      • Timing of the exercise
      • Executives involved in the exercise
      • The output required in the exercise
        • Opportunity space
        • General opportunities
        • Specific opportunity objective
        • Opportunities elsewhere
      • The thinking required in the exercise
    • Opportunity space
      • Definition of opportunity space
      • Examination of opportunity space
        • Areas of activity
        • Types of operation
        • Reaction patterns
      • Example of opportunity space
      • Description of opportunity space
      • Purpose of opportunity space description
      • Job description and opportunity space
    • Idea-sensitive areas and general opportunities
      • Idea-sensitive areas (i.s.a.)
        • High-cost area (h.c.a.)
        • Specific-problem area (s.p.a.)
        • Further-development area (f.d.a.)
        • Emotional-target area (e.t.a.)
      • General opportunities
      • Separate ideas
      • Opportunity space
    • The specific opportunity objective
      • Summary of the opportunity
      • Benefits
        • Where from?
        • How?
        • Scale?
        • Depending on what?
        • Dangers?
        • Fall short?
        • Problems?
        • Assumptions?
      • Description of the opportunity
      • Plan of action
      • Resources
      • Sticking-points
      • Time course
    • Progress reports
      • Four-monthly intervals
      • Content of the progress report
    • Opportunities in other areas
      • Other departments
      • Corporate opportunities
    • The Opportunity Manager
      • Some of the tasks of the Opportunity Manager
        • 1. To organize the mechanics of the opportunity search exercise
        • 2. To act in a general liaison capacity with regard to opportunities
        • 3. To provide a communication by-pass
        • 4. To give help and advice
        • 5. To provide a listening post and to be an ombudsman
        • 6. To provide a ‘fixit’ service
        • 7. To set up and run the Opportunity Team
        • 8. To organize and coordinate the Opportunity Task Forces
        • 9. To bring together people to discuss opportunities
        • 10. To focus attention upon specific problems
        • 11. To act as a liaison officer with outside consultants
        • 12. To report on and represent the opportunity function
      • Difficulties
    • The Opportunity Team
      • The mechanics of the Opportunity Team
      • Input to the Opportunity Team
      • Evaluation
      • Reaction of the Opportunity Team to opportunity suggestions
      • Coordination of opportunity search and development
      • Taking the initiative
      • Review and report
      • Budget
      • Difficulty
    • Opportunity Task Force
      • Members of the task force
      • Briefing of the task force
      • Authority of the task force
      • Projects
      • Report back
  • Part III Thinking for opportunities
    • Contents
    • Review of fundamental thinking processes
      • Focus
      • Analysis
      • Abstraction
      • Alternatives (lateral thinking)
      • Synthesis
      • Search, judgement and matching
      • Modification
      • Provocation
      • Repertoire of operations
    • ‘Moving-in’ and ‘moving-out’ as modes of thinking
    • Starting point check-list
      • Intrinsic assets
      • Operating assets
      • Situation assets
      • ‘Left behind’
      • Synergy
      • Variable value
      • Challenge
      • ‘De-averaging’
      • Significant point
      • Disadvantage into advantage
      • ‘Under what circumstances …’
      • ‘What business are we in?’
      • Me-too
      • Brought in from abroad
      • Market size
      • Trends
      • Focus on areas of weakness and areas of strength
      • Idea-sensitive areas
      • Provocation
      • Transfer
      • The treatment of ideas
    • End-point check-list
      • Idea-sensitive areas
      • The ‘something’ method
      • Market gaps
      • Needs
      • Objectives
      • Wishful thinking
      • Defects
      • Faults
      • Quality improvements
      • Problem-solving
        • Stock solutions
        • Constructed solutions
        • Working backwards
        • Re-definition of the problem
        • Provocation
        • Upstream problem avoidance
    • The treatment of ideas
      • The killer phrase
      • Function extraction
      • The PMI
      • Provocation and stepping stones
      • Tailoring an idea
      • Instruction symbols for thinking
        • No entry
        • Build upon
        • Make practical
        • Use as a stepping stone
        • Extract the function
        • Incorporate the function
        • Examine the basic assumptions
        • Focus
        • Challenge
        • Expand
        • Contract
        • Show evidence
      • The DPA rating
        • Spell it out
        • Information available and information required
        • Satisfy and define
    • If-box maps
      • Action-channels
      • If-boxes
        • Needed item
        • Problem solution
        • Search
        • Response
        • Circumstance
        • Protective
      • Constructing if-box maps
    • Action structure for opportunity
      • Channels of effort
      • Delegation
      • Fashions, trends and bandwagons
      • Tapping existing energy
      • Trigger
      • Amplification
      • Positive feedback
      • Contact channels
    • Dealing with risk and uncertainty
      • Sensitivity
      • Cycles
      • Self-fulfilling
      • Observation
      • Analysis
      • Recognition
      • Comparison
      • Hunch
      • Trends
      • Market research
      • Test runs
      • Extrapolation
      • Feasibility study
      • Spell it out
      • Wide targets, narrow targets and nearby targets
      • Degree of innovation
      • Cumulative effects
      • Risk and reward
    • Evaluation
      • Spell out the benefits
      • Approval and rejection
      • Benefits
        • What are the benefits?
        • How do the benefits arise?
        • How large are the benefits?
        • On what do the benefits depend?
        • In what way may the benefits fall short of expectation?
        • What are the assumptions?
        • What problems are likely to be met?
        • Example
      • The time profile
      • Goodness of fit
        • Does the opportunity fit the type of manager we have?
        • Does the opportunity fit our cash-flow situation?
        • Does the opportunity fit our market strengths?
        • Does the opportunity fit production and research facilities?
        • Does the opportunity fit our style of thinking?
      • Investment
      • Test-beds
      • Cut-offs
        • Target cut-off
        • Cost cut-off
        • Time cut-off
        • Test response cut-off
        • Disaster cut-off
        • Review cut-off
      • Difficulties
      • Scenario
        • Excellent
        • Moderate
        • Poor
        • Disaster
      • Comparison
        • Pre-definition
        • Individual assessment
        • Comparison
      • Value
  • Summary of Terms
    • Hindsight
    • Lateral thinking
    • Important and urgent
    • Technology-push innovation
    • Market-pull innovation
    • Minding the store
    • Reactive and projective thinking
    • Problem-solving and problem-finding
    • Blocked by openness
    • The problem of no problem
    • Train-driver-style executive
    • Doctor-style executive
    • The farmer-style executive
    • The fisherman-style executive
    • An opportunity-negative structure
    • Riding the cycle
    • Opportunity war
    • Escape benefits and achievement benefits
    • Break-off point
    • The opportunity dilemma
    • Idea-sensitive area (i.s.a.)
    • Sticking point
    • Provocation
    • Po
    • Moving-in and moving-out
    • Intrinsic assets
    • Operating assets
    • Situation assets
    • Left behind
    • Synergy
    • Variable value
    • ‘De-averaging’
    • Me-too
    • The ‘something’ method
    • Upstream problem avoidance
    • ‘The same as’
    • Function extraction
    • PMI
    • Stepping stone
    • Tailoring an idea
    • DPA rating
    • Spell it out
    • FI-FO
    • If-box map
    • Action channel
    • If-box
    • Wide targets, narrow targets and nearby targets
    • Time profile
    • Goodness of fit
    • Cut-off
    • Scenario
    • Best-case and worst-case
    • The opportunity search exercise (Opex)
    • Opportunity Audit
    • Opportunity Manager
    • Opportunity Team
    • Opportunity Task Force
    • Opportunity space
    • General opportunities
    • Specific opportunity objective
  • Read More in Penguin

 

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker


The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context

 

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These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point

 

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