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Paul Saffo is a forecaster and essayist with over two decades experience exploring long-term technological change and its practical impact on business and society. He teaches at Stanford University and[…]

To avoid missing opportunities in a down market, Paul Saffo advises business leaders to focus less on what their company is doing wrong, more on what it can do differently.

Question: How can companies avoid turning inward in a down market?


Paul Saffo: I really think that every good executive should have a really strong contrarian instinct. When everybody else is in a down market is focusing on what they’re doing wrong, instead focus on what you should be doing differently, it may be that what you did in the past was perfectly right. It is possible to do all the right things in business and still have a business crisis because of what’s happening in the external environment. And if you start focusing on mistakes only, you’re going to miss opportunities. But above all, executives in this moment of deep uncertainty will be most effective if they listen to the contrarian in them.


Conducted on: June 18, 2009.