September 18, 2019

3. Timing: It Is More Than Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

Jeff Stephenson

Jeff Stephenson
Co-Owner and Subject Matter Expert/RPSolved

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When companies wake up one morning and realize their organization lacks attractive opportunities for growth, they often attempt a crash course to renew their portfolio through large-scale initiatives. Like most actions born of desperation, these have a high failure rate. A better approach ensures that the organization has a set of promising new opportunities in reserve, waiting for the day when circumstances favor scaling.

The industry in which most companies have chosen to reside is constantly throwing out a continuous and constant stream of opportunities and threats. It is a mistake to see these as predictable or even inevitable, because they are neither. Regardless of what happened in the past, it is neither guarantee nor an “all seeing eye” into the future. Things happen because people do them and there is nothing more unpredictable than a human being. Through doubt and conventional approach, your company may have allowed prime opportunities to pass by and into the waiting arms of rivals.

On the other hand, being too early is just as bad if not worse than being too late. Resources are expended, plans are made, etc. to acquire an opportunity that is not ripe enough to pick from the tree. Like those that your company may have let pass by, these opportunities also go to rivals who bide their time (reserving their strength) and utilize the efforts expended by your company to easily pick the ripened fruits while your company catches its breath for another attempt. Contrary to what some believe and base their success upon, windows of opportunity exist in reality, not in our minds.

It is important that your company management does not let existing structures limit their leader’s thinking, as innovation is critical and second only to timing, their efforts must match the availability of the opportunity.   Leaders cannot open opportunities that are not ready to open, but must influence events and shaping industry standards to their favor, where possible, so that they are positioned correctly to be there prepared to act when the door opens.

It would be prudent to remember that “The early bird may catch the worm, but the early worm gets caught.” and “It is the second mouse that gets the cheese.”


  1. Your company must place “successful” personnel in strategic leadership positions within the respective departments and empower and hold them accountable to identify and act upon small windows of opportunity. They must have a budget assigned to them for the sole purpose of acting on the small opportunities. The budgets must come with free latitude of expenditure (but be fully documented and reported upon) in order to keep opportunities from passing by while waiting on approvals.
  2. A reoccurring meeting with senior management attendance should take place with the aforementioned personnel where they will report on (1) what they have done, (2) what they are doing, (3) what they are about to do and (4) what happened; good and bad and MOST IMPORTANTLY (5) what they think is coming.

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