Content created by Ali Uren Founder of Kiikstart

From a young age, we are always taught to find what we’re good at – focus on your strengths but I say ignore your strengths to minimise vulnerability. And find new growth and different opportunities in the process.

In my diverse business transformation and change project experience I reject the premise/myth that to succeed we must merely focus on strengths. Why?

It’s not helpful in preparing and responding to challenge, change or transformation. Nor does it lead to different ways of thinking that helps us change how we work and do business as it continues to keep us fearful that we will “get caught out”.

Unfortunately, what we aren’t taught, even as children, is how to identify skill gaps and threats and design a creative response to risks in a way that brings new opportunity/growth. Even in times of challenge and change. Prosperous and not so prosperous.

Three points I want to make clear:

  1. Strengths will largely take care of themselves – of course you will continue to nurture your talent in various ways but it doesn’t need to take up a lot of headspace.
  2. You cannot exponentially grow and create legendary impact from what you are already talented at.
  3. Innovation and doing different to get a new outcome is driven by changing how you perceive and design your response to skill gaps, threats and risks.

True opportunity comes from making the time to self-reflect and analyse where vulnerabilities lie within a business and its workforce – and getting a in depth handle on your current or potential situation.

Below are 3 what if questions I ask clients early on when identifying the skill gaps, threats and risks that shape the strategic focus of any transformation and change project. Feel free to trial and experiment with these as you see fit.

These three questions open up different conversations in the workplace and help people not be so fearful of skills, threats and risks by changing the mindset.

  • What if we challenged the commonly held belief that skill gaps, threats, and risks are negative?
  • What if we changed that mindset and flipped it into something that is positive, encouraging growth?
  • What if we spent more time looking at different ways to respond to skill gaps, threats and risks– what growth could be possible both financially and from a people perspective?

Let’s be straight with one another. To be able to be confident in asking these questions, the right workforce reality must be created. These are not questions that can be asked without a high degree of trust and buy in from all members of the team.

The workforces that think differently to gaps, threats and risks are the ones that can:

1. Create consistent and deliberate opportunities for open and respectful discussions around real and potential skill gaps, threats and risks.

What are we facing now and what are we potentially facing in the next 6, 12, 18 and 24 months?

2. Allow the workforce to own areas to do different and see this as a way to innovate and grow – not a reason to be fearful.

A focus on building influence and control is developed across all roles, not just at Leadership and Management level.

3. Consistently asks the three what if? questions across all roles- not just the Leaders.

To create an environment of trust means the team need to understand your motives up front for asking these what if questions.

One of the greatest roadblocks I have seen in clients who are wanting to prepare and respond differently to challenge/change and crisis is success bias.


It’s the cultural belief that everything we do in business, as a team or in our role will be a great success.

If it’s not successful we won’t share the lessons learnt – will move on as quick as possible. We won’t reflect on it; we’ll keep it hidden from each other.

Success bias is a major roadblock for being able to create exponentially different businesses, workplaces and careers by changing how people think about so called “failure”.

So how you know if your workplace is suffering from a dreaded case of success bias?

Make time to take these two steps when you return to your business.

  1. Self-assess your own internal team communications – this can include the following:
  • Team meeting agendas
  • Minutes from meetings – what was the focus of the discussions.
  • Any learning and development undertaken by leaders and the team – what is the focus of the learning.
  • Any progress updates on key projects – what areas are highlighted in these updates. 
  • Performance reviews plus informal team catch ups – what is the focus of these conversations.
  • An internal company presentation from the CEO, COO, CFO

2. Once you have gathered these communications undertake a critical assessment by asking the following questions:

  • How much focus is on challenges, gaps, threats or risks and finding potential solutions where relevant?
  • Is there only focus on what has been successful and ignoring real and potential challenges?
  • Are there ongoing opportunities for the team across all levels of the workforce to openly discuss skill gaps, threats and risks as part of daily operations?
  • If there is no focus on finding solutions to skill gaps, threats and risks, why do you think that is?

Your responses to these questions will give you the answer to whether you are suffering success bias and need to address it as a matter of priority.

If you are ready to prepare your business and workforce in depth for whatever challenge, change or transformation it may face, please reach out at or

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