Be Discovery Driven

Over the past two weeks we have looked at the sixth personal transformer in the blog posts give failure its due & learning to fail

One of the key attributes ascribed to transformers is that they play where no one else is playing. Whether you are a low-end transformer or a new-market transformer, you will find yourself pioneering your way to a market that has yet to be defined. As a trailblazer, even though you may have a goal or a purpose, your path to that objective is yet to be marked. It is unrealistic to believe that you can get there without a detour or two; flexibility becomes an important attribute. Hence the seventh personal transformer is the ability to be driven by discovery

According to researchers Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian McMillan, discovery driven planning acknowledges the difference between planning for a new venture and planning for a more conventional line of business. Conventional planning operates on the premise that you can extrapolate future results from a well-understood and predictable platform of past experience. One expects predictions to be accurate because they are based on solid knowledge. In this type of planning, a venture’s deviations from the plan are a bad thing.

Most of us prefer the certainty of this kind of conventional planning. There’s likely a checklist with a list of tasks to complete, maybe even a detailed market analysis and a step-by-step blueprint to achieve your goal. If you’ve gone to high school and University you are probably pretty schooled in this type of planning. Do your homework, study for tests, participate in class, and you will get an A in the course.

A parallel can exist in your career. Beginning in high school, you could create a checklist for what you need to do to become a doctor (e.g. get good marks, go to medical school, complete a residency and you will become a doctor). Once you’ve checked off the list, you’ve completed your goal. Under conventional planning, if you don’t become a doctor after following this plan, something is amiss.

But this kind of planning isn’t how most of us figure out what to do with our lives or even how most companies’ today figure out how to succeed. New York Times columnist David Brooks has said, “Most people don’t form a self and then lead a life. They are called by a problem, and the self is constructed gradually by their calling.” Matching problems to your strengths isn’t just about being rewarded by monetary compensation but also by the joy of following a true vocation. But often, you discover what that calling is one step at a time.

1.Create a reverse income statement

With personal transformation, the question you ask is: To achieve my baseline level of happiness what do I need to accomplish and what am I willing to give up in order to make this happen?

2. Calculate the cost

As an individual, the question is what kind of time, expertise, money, and buy-in will you need to make your plan operational? Is the personal cost of being on this curve one you can afford and want to incur?

3. Compile an assumption checklist

How many sales calls will you need to make? How many recruiters will you have to talk to? Do you enjoy the work, and will it be emotionally satisfying?

4. Prepare a milestone chart

This chart specifies which assumptions need to be tested and what you are doing to learn by each milestone.


In 2014, Korn Ferry International, the world’s largest executive search firm, was trying to understand what sets top-performing executives apart. Its research showed that while technical competencies were a starting point, a leading predicator of C-Suite success is insatiable curiosity and a willingness to learn.

When you pursue a transformation course, you’ll probably end up in a place you hadn’t anticipated. You wont be alone. According to research, 70% of all successful new businesses end up with a strategy different from the one they initially pursued.

One of the things that the textbooks on transformation shy away from mentioning is that discovery-driven learning is often lonely and sometimes scary. Businesses and individuals that are transforming themselves frequently find themselves with very little, if any, company. Because transformation can feel like you are in the company of one, you need to know what job you want this learning curve to do. What do you hope to gain and why are you transforming yourself or your business. Finding your WHY is part of the discovery-driven process, and there are often clues to be found in your hopes and dreams. Almost any dream can germinate into a reason for transformation, whether it is being your own boss, doing something you love, financial gain, or all of the above.

We are going to delve more into the power of this self awareness next week but in the meantime please find some of my recent blogs on finding your North Star (aka WHY or Purpose):

a) Disrupt You

b) Daring & Disruptive

c) On Purpose

d) Finding Your Purpose

e) Living On Purpose

f) Setting Your New Years Purpose

g) What Is Your Four Minute Mile?

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