3.2.6 Opening Matrix Tool

Six keys to building a matrix to help us identify unseen openings using The five elements of positioning.

Art of War Quote: 

“Many advantages add up to victory.
Few advantages add up to defeat.”

Art of War 1:5:5-6

Perspective: 

Opportunities? They are all around us: there is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it. Orison Swett Marden

General Principle: 

Analyzing the effects of various changes on the five elements of positioning reveals hidden openings.

Situation: 

People have a difficult time seeing opportunities  because they are looking in the wrong place.  They see what is already there rather than what is missing. Nature abhors a vacuum but vacuums are invisible.  They see what is being used rather than what is being overlooked for use. They are frightened by change, turning away from their uncertain future rather than turning toward it and peering into its darkness.  When they do look in that darkness, they imagine monsters and phantoms rather than its potential for magic. 

Opportunity: 

People must adapt to change. By organizing our thoughts on change, we can see the potential for new positions that it is creating. Without change, people will continue to do what they have in the past. Change motivates them to support new positions, positions we can create from the openings created by the change. Sun Tzu's five element model offers us a new way of seeing change and its potential for the future. We can use this model as a tool for seeing what is normally hidden. Like a telescope that allows us to see what is very large but too far away to be seen with our naked eyes, this model brings reveals new universes of possibility. Like the microscope, which shows what is very close but too small to be seen, this tool allows us to see the easy path forward that is normally hidden from us. 

Key Methods: 

The following keys construct a matrix that we can use to see the resources and opportunities made possible by change.

  1. List the most important changes affect your situation in the first column of the matrix. Change is the source of all opportunities. Look for changes that have a broad impact but which are easy to overlook. These changes are the source of all future opportunities (3.2 Opportunity Creation).
  2. In the column next to each change, post the ways in which its trend might reverse itself or what people expect from the change might produce the opposite effect.  This column represents the effect of the Climate column. While change itself is driven by climate, a future change in the current change is also caused by the continual shifts in climate. It most people are adjusting to the current change, we can get ahead of them by preparing for that changes reversal. Sun Tzu teaches that most trends tend to reverse themselves because of balances in nature driving change (3.2.5 Dynamic Reversal).
  3. In the next column, list the new or unmet needs or values created by the change or its reversal.  This is the Mission column. Meeting these needs or addressing those values is an opportunity. Others are likely to see these new needs or values are a problem rather than an opportunity.  These needs and values follow an hierarchy of mission values (1.6.2 Types of Motivations). 
  4. In the next column, list the unclaimed resources or rewards made possible by the change or its reversal. This is the Ground column since Ground is the source of all resources and rewards. Sometimes, we can easily fill this column with ideas for getting rewarded for addressing the needs in the previous column. However, sometimes all we can see from change is the damage it does.  However, "damage" to some area also often means that resources are being made available that were, in the past, being used elsewhere. These resources are available for our use if we can imagine how to use them (7.6.1 Resource Discovery).
  5. In the next column, list the missing leadership or decisions for which the change or its reversal creates a need. This is the Leader or Commander element in Sun Tzu's model. When a number of different groups are effected by a change, all with different needs, they often are simply looking for a leader who can get them all pointed in the same direction, working together using that change. By providing that leadership, providing a vision or a project with a shared goal we can mobilize a force for positive change, we can leverage people's hunger for leadership (1.5.1 Command Leadership).
  6. In the next column, list the outdated methods or the new methods that are necessitated by the change or its reversal creates a need. This is the Methods part of Sun Tzu's model. Ideas for projects or campaign utilizing change are often more easily imagined by looking at how change outdates old methods or requires new ones (1.5.2. Group Methods).

Illustration: 

This tool emulates a mental process that I personally use all the time. Recently, I have been working on community development using these ideas.

  1. List the most important changes affect your situation in the first column of the matrix. Our local community 0of Shoreline (north of Seattle), has been affected by the following changes:
    • Disappearance of Community Media
    • Improvements in Shoreline's Main Artery
    • Continued Economic Slump
    • New Local Government Roles for Business Development and Events
    • Local Community College in Trouble
    • Donations to Non-Profits Down
    • Decline in Local Service Organizations (Rotary, Kiwanis)
    • Less Easy to Travel to Seattle For Events
  2. In the column next to each change, post the ways in which its trend might reverse itself or what people expect from the change might produce the opposite effect.  The following are potential reversals of these changes:
    • New community media centered around internet
    • None
    • Local economy turns around
    • Local Government cuts back on Business Development and Event Promotion
    • College is closed down
    • Donations begin to climb again
    • People will begin joining local service organizations
    • Government will fix travel problems to downtown Seattle
  3. In the next column, list the new or unmet needs or values created by the change or its reversal. 
    • Local people need to know about community events/Local business need advertising outlets
    • The new look makes it possible to create a new image of city
    • Local businesses need help to reach customers in and outside of city
    • Local government needs ideas for "place-making" to distinguish community
    • Local college needs to make money selling their unused facilities
    • Worthy causes in the community are increasing need
    • Local service organizations need more visibility and membership
    • People in area need entertainment and events that don't require travel to Seattle downtown
  4. In the next column, list the unclaimed resources or rewards made possible by the change or its reversal.
    • Business will pay for advertising on some sort of local media
    • The new highway is an advertising venue for local businesses and events
    • Local business are willing to donate to causes to get visibility
    • Local government has resources to help put local businesses and promote local events
    • Local college is willing to offer their facilities to local business and service organization to generate revenue
    • Local needs can be used to mobilize local interest through venues like schools
    • Local service organizations are willing to offer manpower and work together on projects
    • There is a market for local events and entertainment
  5. In the next column, list the missing leadership or decisions for which the change or its reversal creates a need.
    • Business need someone to give them ideas for promoting their businesses
    • Those controlling signing on highway need to be convinced of community need to change policies
    • Local business need to be asked to contribute
    • Local government needs to be given some ideas in terms of how to promote the city
    • The college president and administration needs to be given some ideas about how to utilize their facilities
    • The local charities need to be contacted and contribute assets such as mailing lists.
    • Local service organizations need to be contacted and lead to join together.
    • The local market needs to offered a series of entertaining events put on by non-profits and local businesses to support local charities and bring business into the area.
  6. In the next column, list the outdated methods or the new methods that are necessitated by the change or its reversal creates a need.
    • All groups (local businesses, service organizations, local government, charity organizations, local college) need to develop methods for putting on a series of local events that they can grow year after years, following the example of other communities that have built successful events attracting dollars and attention from the surrounding area.