How to be a great opportunity manager

We know the core elements of great managers.  They know how to manage people, and how to manage resources. But that’s not enough. A great manager must also know how to manage opportunities.

What does that mean? What does it take to be a great opportunity manager?

People think of opportunities as things that pop up randomly, as if by magic. That’s not something that you manage. It’s like managing the weather. You don’t manage the weather, it just happens.

If you don’t manage your opportunities, they will appear and disappear randomly. But that’s a route to failure.

Opportunities are so crucial to your success that you must manage them, and you can manage them, by using a process. All disciplines of management use processes to create success, and opportunity is no different.

Opportunity shouldn’t be something you consider occasionally when a lightbulb goes off over your head, when someone has a good idea, or when something falls in your lap, or when you’re desperate and you need to find something better to pursue.

Opportunities should be an ongoing activity that you manage with a process all the time. And they should be one of the most important things that you manage.

In fact, you could make the case that opportunity management is more important than the management of people and resources.

Because if you pursue nopportunities instead of opportunities, even with the finest team and abundant resources, you will probably fail. The ongoing quality of the opportunities you pursue is crucial to your success.

Opportunity needs to be managed at every level of an organization. If you’re managing others, you need to be an opportunity coach for the people you supervise. You need to help them with clarity and objectivity to manage their opportunities.

You also need to be able to help all your stakeholders to manage their opportunities. The ultimate key to success lies in helping others to manage their opportunities. Business is obviously not a solo sport, it’s a team sport.

This is radically different from the usual ‘competitive advantage’ mindset, which is that “I’m competing with my stakeholders for a limited pool of resources.”

This is the zero-sum game mindset. With that mindset, you consider your stakeholders to be enemies rather than collaborators in mutual growth.

The better you can help all your stakeholders to manage their opportunities, the better you will do. That’s because you’re trading value with them.

Your stakeholders include your own team, your customers, their customers, your channels, your suppliers, and your investors.

Ideally you should be helping your stakeholders to effectively manage your jointly pursued opportunities, so you can help to nurture a growing ecosystem of value exchanges that massively grow value on an ongoing basis for everyone within it.