The resistance in the US and Canada to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by Transcanada Pipelines has hemmed in that company’s ability to bring new oil to refineries on the US Gulf coast. It has also left Transcanada vulnerable to political whim and environmental protests. I’m not necessarily saying that the latter are bad things, but they do restrict freedom of action. Transcanada’s decision to start the process to build the Energy East Pipeline to ship Alberta and Saskatchewan oil to eastern Canada and eventually overseas markets provides additional options and freedom of action to sell western Canadian oil.

With freedom of action, you can select the time and place to attack and keep your competitors off guard. It is also an opportunity to diversify options which create dilemmas for competitors and additional ways around existing or potential obstacles to growth.

Are your decisions today likely to hem you in in the short, medium, or long term? What can you do to innovate now while maintaining or safeguarding future freedom of action?

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

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