Part 2 of a series on Preparing for the Coming Economic Storm.

Turning Around the Coming StormTimes of great distress promise one thing for leaders of great resolve—great opportunity. The problem with most companies is that they have never thought strategically about the potential opportunities that are likely to arise in the imminent future.

You’ve made projections about your company’s growth trajectory, set budgets and even objectives to meet that path. But how often has your team made a list of potential opportunities that might arise in the future? How often have you created a plan around how your enterprise will identify, respond and capitalize on likely events in the future that could dramatically impact your organization?

For the vast majority of companies, conducting a thoughtful Potential Opportunity Analysis is as foreign as other typical strategic thinking exercises, such as clarifying innovation objectives or conducting in-depth interviews with prospective customers. Here are the steps your leadership team should walk through on a regular basis to ensure your organization is ready to capitalize on potential opportunities before your competition.

From a broad strategic perspective, what are the greatest potential opportunities you must consider? These are potential opportunities that haven’t happened but might, and yet they are somewhat likely and thus should at least be thought about and for which adequate preparations should be made.

List the Priority Areas for Your Business

There are myriad potential opportunities that could arise, so the first factor to consider is what are the priority areas of concern for your business. Is it growth into new markets, protection or acquisition of resources or maintaining stability and continuity? Based on your priorities, you can then begin to determine where you want to direct your attention for potential new opportunities that may arise.

Consider and Rank Potential Opportunities

Next brainstorm a list of all the likely opportunities you can conceive as potential opportunities that may affect the priority areas of the business. You may be thinking, “but we can’t predict the future!” Of course not, but what is amazing is how often most leadership teams can come up with at least some if not many of the potential opportunities that will arise in these respective areas. More importantly, the process of this planning alerts the team’s attention to a much-heightened level for these and similar opportunities, which will inevitably arise and be of value to the enterprise. Without this planning, your team will be much less likely to react to them if at all.

Likely Cause of the Opportunities

To fully be prepared, you must not only list the opportunities but their likely causes. As  a result, you will be much more attuned to predictive indicators.

Promoting Action

At this point in the exercise you will begin to see that many potential opportunities may be influenced by actions you can proactively take or influence. In these cases, the enterprise can build into its plans activities or objectives that may influence significant opportunities into occurrence.

Exploiting Action

To be fully prepared and not lose any time in exploiting the benefit of the opportunities, you will want to list the exploiting actions that you would want your team to take in order to fully realize the potential from the opportunity. Teams plan much more objectively before the urgency of an opportunity suddenly arises. Better judgment and a fuller marshaling of resources  are made when contingency plans are built well in advance.

What Would Trigger Your Exploiting Action?

Finally, there must be triggers that will act like alarms to alert your team into action. Too often unforeseen opportunities linger on the horizon and even fade away when there aren’t trigger points identified that would alert team members that these opportunities have reached a tipping point.

Mark Faust is a growth advisor, professional speaker and founder of Echelon Management International a growth and turnaround consulting firm. His new book Growth or Bust! Proven Turnaround Strategies To Grow Your Business is available at all Barnes and Noble stores or contact 513.791.5158 or for quantity discounts.