It is always interesting and sometimes surprising to find the number and quality of opportunities to be found in companies that continue to go unnoticed. I suppose a large part of being able to see opportunities is to see things with different eyes (or glasses). I have found that people that are new to a company are a great resource that is often not tapped into.
These people whether new employees, contractors or consultants – or even for that matter, visitors, will often ask some basic questions or have ideas that seem “silly” or not realistic. But it is just these questions and ideas that should be recorded and reviewed, before an arbitrary answer is given, such as “It’s just not possible, you don’t understand our industry/market/equipment/culture/etc,”
Seeing issues and other opportunities without the incumbrance of “history” gives weight to the benefit of these ideas. If effort is taken to turn these ideas into reality, or find the final reason why they won’t work will put your company ahead of the competition, they too – more than likely – will have the same blind spots or issues. Does your company have a full and clear induction program for new employees? I don’t mean those that state “this is where you sit and these are the OH&S practices we follow”, but one that covers all their requirements as well as asking them to document after one week and again after one month what they see as issues or opportunities. In fact, it may also be to your benefit to ask visitors the same thing!
Don’t be caught out, don’t let your competitors get the jump on you. Working on these, often, obvious questions will put you in the position of being forced to review the situation actively. Use the “5x why” method (drill down 5 times, don’t just ask 5 questions at the same level.) Yes, it is agreed, everyone has an opinion but learn how to manage these and put them to good use – plus the fact that just by listening you encourage other ideas (and respect). It becomes a win win for all.