Articles and papers written by some of the industries top thought-leaders on business strategy and transformation.

How to Shift Your Reality Gap

The Reality Gap is one of the chief contributing factors to failing strategies, in all of our businesses.

What’s the Reality Gap? It’s  a by-product of the way our minds work. It’s also the reason we think we know exactly what’s going on in our buyers’ worlds. Why we’re often wrong about their real needs.

Say what? Wrong about our buyers’ needs?  But we know best, it’s our jobs to lead them.  Uh huh. That’s part of the Reality Gap too. The belief that we know best is another human mind program.
Here’s a reality for you.

We vendors do not know best when it comes to today’s empowered buyers. Not even.

How the Reality Gap Works

Here’s how we get trapped in the Reality Gap.

We each view reality in our own unique way. No two realities are the same. That said, when we group together in a business, we begin to create a shared reality. Based on what the group (aka the herd) believes to be true.  We all sit in the same rooms and agree to the reality of our markets, our buyers’ needs and our competitor’s weaknesses. This shared reality forms the basis of our strategic assumptions.

The problem is this.  Our individual and shared reality rarely matched the reality outside of ourselves, our teams or our business.
That means the fundamentals of our strategy are out of sync with our markets and buyers.  Which is why the Reality Gap causes strategies to fail.

How to Shift Your Reality Gap

So how do we shift our of our unique version of reality and into a broader perception that allows us to recognize what our buyers, markets and competitors are really thinking?

Reality is found outside of our comfort zone.

That means we have to open our minds and change our habits to seek out different realities than what we already know is true. We have to step beyond our knowns and facts that brig us comfort and into new territory. How?

Here are three tricks to see a different reality. Usually a better reality for your business.

1. Get outside of your head…. and your business.

I know, that sounds obvious. But how often do we do it?  Sure, you go chat with your favorite customers and partners. But do you chat with the buyer who didn’t choose your solution*? With the customer that is pissed at you?  With the steadfast loyal customers of your biggest competitors? With your customer service reps who take the brunt of your customers’ woes?  When was the last time you sat in a meeting and listened to 10 buyers who don’t like your offerings?  There are so many options to expand our reality about our business. The key?  Get our of your comfort zone and listen/learn to people who have fresh and diverse perspectives.  That’s where you’ll find the realities that drive unstoppable strategies.

2. Shift your inputs.

We all have standards of practice for how we report, analyze and assess our businesses. From prospect pipelines to supply chain efficiency. We have the technology to manage our business to such detail.

That’s the problem.  We get stuck in the patterns of data that we see every day. We don’t see the subtle shifts and trends that would give us the insights we need to see what’s really going on.  That’s why you have to shift the way you look at your business.  Shift the reports so they present data differently, shift the information you gather so you see different facts and data.  Shift the sources of information about your markets so you get different perspectives.  As you shift your inputs, you also shift what you know –  and that in turn shifts your reality.

3.  Question everything you believe about your business reality.

When was the last time you questioned the things you and your teams know about your business? For example, you know what your product value is, know what your best customer profiles look like, know the best way to sell your offerings.  But what if what you know is no longer reality? What if there’s a better way, a new better customer, a new offering that’s even better than your beloved product?

Start questioning your reality about your business. Look beyond what you know and search for what you don’t know.  That’s how you find today’s reality.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the thing. Our market realities change faster than ever before.  Yesterday’s great innovation is today’s me-too feature. Yesterday’s best customer profile may be today’s discount seeker that drags your margin down.

The days of living on our laurels and what we know to be true are long gone. If you want to create great strategies that drive success, you have to shift into today’s reality –  and tomorrow’s – based on what your buyers really think.

So start shifting.  The truth is out there…