Opportunity Discovery Process


Have you got a problem or challenge and not sure how to tackle it?

Opportunity Discovery, a process developed by George Land, is useful for solving both existing problems and identifying future opportunities. Particularly if you have a clear idea of the outcome you want to achieve.

There are seven steps in the Opportunity Discovery Process:

  1. Describe Desired Outcome
  2. Identify Resources
  3. Describe New Behaviors
  4. Prioritize Behaviors
  5. Assess Current Performance
  6. Map Opportunities
  7. Develop Action Plan

To illustrate this process let us use as an example.

Your team is having a lot of in-fighting and tension. You believe much of this occurs, because people let things build up until they explode.

You want to fix this problem and you've decided to use the Opportunity Discovery Process with your team.

Step 1 - Described Desired Outcome


This step is as simple as, clearly and succinctly, stating what you want to accomplish or have happen. Stephen Covey refers to this as 'begin with the end in mind'. Let's say your end goal is, "The Team Gives Each Other Direct and Relationship-Enhancing Feedback"

Step 2 - Identify Resources

At this stage, with your team, brainstorm your current weaknesses and strengths, related to your desired outcome.

The focus here, is simply on identifying your starting point so you can make sure you make good use of your team's strengths and create work-arounds for any weaknesses.

This step shouldn't take you too long at all.

Step 3 - Describe New Behaviors

Now is the time to future focus. Here you turn your undivided attention toward what it is you are creating. You do this by using sensory rich language, that describes the qualities, characteristics and behaviors that you will use to achieve your outcome.

There is no need to worry about the 'how-tos' at this point. That comes in the Action Planning Stage.

So don't limit yourselves, just because you don't know how you are going to do it. At this point you are simply identifying those characteristics you will need to have for success (some of them the team may already have identified as their strengths, so make sure you include them too).

What qualities, characteristics and behaviors might people have if they are giving each direct and relationship-enhancing feedback?

Maybe a few might be:

  1. Open and Receptive
  2. Listening Intently Before Speaking
  3. Provide Feedback Quickly, With Respect
  4. Limiting judgments

Step 4 - Prioritize Behaviors

The next step is to decide where to place your focus and priority.

You do this by comparing each of the behaviors you identified in the previous step, and rank and prioritize. Number each behavior and then compare it to each of the other behaviors in your list.

All you need to do is ask yourself this question, "On 15 October 201x we have achieved our outcome of giving direct and relationship-enhancing feedback. Of all the behaviors and characteristics we have used, which of these current two we are comparing, was more important to our success?"

The key here is that this isn't an either or choice - it is a relative choice. It's simply making the choice which of the two was more important.

So let's look at our example. Between the two behaviors 'open and receptive' and 'listening intently' decide which is more important and circle its number. Let's say you feel #1 is more important - then you'd circle it.


Next compare the first behavior (open and receptive) with the third attribute (provide feedback quickly). If you feel 'open and receptive' is less important than 'provide feedback' you would circle #3

Next compare the first behavior with the fourth and so forth. Once you have compared the first behavior with all other behaviors on your list, you then move to the second behavior and begin the process in the same way. You have already compared #2 with #1 so you begin by comparing #2 with #3.

If you have ten attributes your completed chart would look something like this (nb current performance is not rated until the next step):


Next, you total the scores to identify the behavior that you feel is most important to success in achieving your outcome. In this example the highest priority is for Item #5 which scored 7.

This process is best done individually before coming together as a team to compare results. Combine the individual results to determine the group score. You can do this by averaging or by discussing each person's perspective and agreeing to the priority order. Either way has advantages and disadvantages.

Getting each person to score as an individual, and then comparing each individual's ranking, enables the team to have a very rich and dynamic discussion about each person's viewpoint.

Whilst you may feel it may be quicker to prioritize as a team, and skip the individual rankings, unless the team is very high performing, you may find that some people's true opinions and insights may not be surfaced - which as you can imagine could have disastrous effects.

Step 5 - Assess Current Performance

Now it is time to rate how well you are currently performing. This can sometimes be challenging for the team, however, this is an important step as it provides the springboard for improvement and achieving the results you desire.

Again, do this step individually before coming to the group consensus.

Simply rate on a scale of:

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