Turn Your Stopper Into a Stopportunity

Is your stopper really an opportunity in disguise? People love to throw artificial roadblocks or “stoppers” up. Resistance to change though, is not how one leads. Instead, one displays leadership by turning a stopper into a stopportunity, here’s how.

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A stop sign displaying STOPportunity
You Can Change a Stopper Into an Opportunity

What is a Stopportunity?

Stopportunities are objections that stem from poor reasoning. These objections have typically been around a long time without being challenged. They proliferate the status quo without good reason or a business case. As a result, these potential stoppers are actually opportunities in disguise. Hence the term, “Stopportunity” – opportunities masquerading as stoppers.

A Stopportunity Example

Years ago, while I worked for a chemical company, there was a business request to automate creation of certification letters. The highly customized nature of these letters and the fact that nobody had an automated solution, led most technical architects in the company to say it could not be done. However, one eCommerce architect decided to lay this out as a challenge to an aspiring, young developer.

Within a couple of weeks, that young developer had a working prototype. The solution was considered extremely cutting edge and was among the first examples to meet federal requirements with digital signatures.

The final solution received special recognition from the Food and Drug Administration. That recognition spurred interest from new customers. The CEO gave special recognition to the team, the architect and the developer. Everyone engaged in creating that application went on to develop more great solutions for the company. And, to this day, that developer is very appreciative to the architect for his support and belief in his abilities.

How to Identify a Stopportunity

Any roadblock you encounter has the potential to become a stopportunity. However, here are the tell-tale signs of the most obvious stopportunities:

1. “We’ve never done it that way before”

This is the flashing neon sign of stopportunity. If someone objects to an idea simply because “we’ve never done it that way” you may have struck gold. I’ve seen that excuse thrown up several times in my career and on all occasions, there was no good reason not to do it like that.

2. “So-and-so won’t like that” (a.k.a. Politics)

I am not a fan of politics in business. However, they are a reality in many (yes, many – not all) organizations. When an objection rests in the perception that somebody else may not like your idea, remember it is just that – perception. It is not fact. Meet the person and listen to their concerns. More often than not, the individual is open to persuasion, once you are able to address their concerns.

3. Lack of Facts

Did you notice the first two scenarios lacked a business case or facts supporting the challenge? Whenever someone presents a stopper to you without fiscal reason or sound facts to the contrary, you may have a stopportunity.

4. Emotion

As I wrote in Frustration as a Warning Sign for Leaders, emotional responses signify warnings to leaders. If an objector seems emotional rather than passionate, consider the reason behind their emotion. Their logic may not be rational and you have a stopportunity.

So the next time you hear an objection, don’t turn around and give up. Instead, consider the root-cause of the blocker. If there are insufficient facts, too much emotion or a political angle, approach the objection as a Stopportunity and turn it into a success story of your own.

Question: What stopportunity do you have before you now? What Stopper did you turn into an opportunity in the past?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

2 thoughts on “Turn Your Stopper Into a Stopportunity”

  1. Too often I know I let “We’ve always done it that way before” get in the way.  Great post, I know there are several things in my life I need to turn into a stopportunity.

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