In business, it’s common for companies to focus on growth, constantly seeking ways to increase leads, customers, and profits. However, there is also value in taking a defensive approach, considering where opportunities may be lost and anticipating potential obstacles that could stand in the way of reaching goals. This mental model, called inversion, involves approaching problems or goals backwards and considering worst-case scenarios.
I recently had the opportunity to experience the benefits of this approach while playing a game of Othello with my wife. Despite usually losing to her in any game involving a game board or deck of cards, I was able to win this particular match by using a defensive strategy. Rather than making moves to achieve the greatest number of flipped chips in my favor, I focused on minimizing the potential damage from my wife’s next turn.
This strategy, which I was unaware of at the time, was based on inversion. It made me realize that I often spend too much time and energy being offensive-minded, constantly seeking to grow or increase metrics such as traffic, new customers, revenue, and profit. This is a common mentality for many businesses, as they seek to increase leads, customers, and revenue.
But, perhaps we should be asking ourselves more often what we shouldn’t be doing, or what losing looks like, rather than just focusing on what we should be doing more of. By taking a holistic approach to business strategy and using inversion, we can create a more comprehensive marketing plan that not only targets big wins, but also prevents substantial losses. This involves flipping our point of view and considering things we don’t want to happen, rather than just focusing on what we want to happen.
Defense is often underrated in favor of the more exciting and aggressive approach of offense. However, by using inversion to make moves that minimize damage rather than seeking the most aggressive gain, we can incrementally improve and remove the things that hold us back the most. This is especially important to consider when setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
To build a stronger business strategy and comprehensive marketing plan, inversion can help us identify our weak spots and improve upon our strengths. We can do this by considering worst-case scenarios for our business and creating negative goals – things we want to avoid at all costs. These negative goals can help us determine important goals and KPIs that will help us avoid actualizing them.
For example, maybe one of the worst-case scenarios for your business is losing a major client. To avoid this, you could set a negative goal of never losing a client, and your KPIs could include measures of customer satisfaction and retention. By identifying potential obstacles and creating negative goals, you can develop a plan to avoid them and achieve success.
It’s important to remember that defense is often underrated in favor of the more exciting and aggressive approach of offense. This is true in sports, where we often remember the offensive stars and highlights, but it’s also true in business. However, by using inversion to consider what we want to avoid and how we can minimize damage, we can create a more comprehensive and effective business strategy. This approach allows us to identify our weak spots and improve upon our strengths, leading to long-term success.