We got a 2-month old kitten about 6 weeks ago. It’s fascinating to see how it “plays” at being a cat in the wild. Granted, it sleeps about 20 hours a day. But in the remaining four hours it spends a lot of time practising to be a hunter. It does so by pretending it’s stalking just about anything in the house, including our feet. I read a few years ago that domestic cats most resemble tigers in their habits, and I can easily see why. I’ve come to the realization that play is really practise for the real world of stalking, hunting, and eating prey. Never mind that it will probably never go outside and will have a full bowl of food; it’s still preparing.

This is how we should view our own business activities, especially any that are vital to our survival and thriving. For example, if one of our roles is to prospect and acquire clients, then we need to practise that. Why wait until an actual sales call or meeting, when we should be “playing” it out beforehand with others in the roles of competitors and/or prospects and buyers?

We can break down the activity into sequential and parallel tasks that can be analyzed, studied, and then practised in detail. We can then reconstitute the whole operation from start to finish. It helps to have observers and coaches to critique our approaches. We can also conduct post-action reviews to determine where things went right and where things went poorly. We do this so we can reproduce our successes and convert our mistakes in real operations.

Any mission-critical function or task can and should be analyzed and improved in this manner, both in terms of the process and in its actual execution. We must learn from the cat, and practise before the real game.

Richard Martin is an expert in strategy and leadership. He uniquely combines his military experience and business acumen to help executives and companies grow and thrive in the face of massive change, competition, and uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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