Window of Opportunity

“What’s the window of opportunity on that?”

Also known as a ‘critical window’ Wiki gives a pretty good definition: “A window of opportunity (also called a margin of opportunity or critical window) is a period of time during which some action can be taken that will achieve a desired outcome. Once this period is over, or the “window is closed”, the specified outcome is no longer possible”.

It’s a term I’ve known and used for many years, usually I’ve used it in a rather flippant way to encourage a person to make up their mind because I have shit to get done. Turns out it’s a real thing, a serious term used in science and medicine. For example the time a person can survive after breathing has stopped is a “critical window” in which emergency treatment can be delivered.

Think of a farmer, if she hasn’t planted her crop before the rains come there is no harvest, that’s perhaps the clearest example.

I’ve been working on a project where the window – the time to ask for executive sponsorship and budget – was closing as we were preparing the business case. We ended up missing it, and using a more minimal technology. Realistically that window for change would not come around for two budget cycles, ie; two years.

Occasionally you’ll see the idea of a closing window of opportunity used in marketing to create a sense of urgency, number of shopping days to Christmas is a timely example. Black Friday shopping deals and limited time offers are all false windows. Try not buying whatever item is being advertised – you’ll be fine.

Know the context, if you’re a farmer, know the seasons, the crops, the market. If you’re a project manager know the budget cycle and the budget influencers – they can open those windows for you when you’re ready.

Image via pixabay