As you may know, I write a post each week based on a question submitted by a reader. Today, we’ll explore another ever-present question leaders constantly face: How do I know which opportunities to pursue?
I’ve written a lot over the last 18 months about time and priority management. I still believe our time is a leader's most valuable asset. Therefore, today’s question is not only strategic, it is critical.
The term opportunity implies some inherent value or benefit. So, by definition, opportunities get our attention. Here are six questions to help you sort through your response when opportunity knocks.
Is the opportunity aligned with any of our current strategies? Assuming you have a plan, your goals, strategies and tactics should already be set. If the current opportunity doesn’t fit, you’ll need some extenuating circumstances to justify a decision to proceed.
What is the potential return if we pursue this opportunity? The potential return from an opportunity should certainly be a factor in the decision making process. The bigger the upside, the more consideration the opportunity deserves. Be careful – most leaders are optimists. That’s generally a good thing; however, we can also overstate the value of an opportunity.
What are the risks associated with this opportunity? Virtually every opportunity has risk associated with it. A realistic risk appraisal can often help you decide if you should seize the moment or pass. Depending on what your assessment reveals, you may want a second opinion – I try to do this if the risks look to be non-existent. I don’t see many opportunities without some risk.
Do I, or we, have time to pursue this opportunity? No matter how great the opportunity, time is the great equalizer – we all have only 24 hours in a day. I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once. Sometimes, we have to pass on opportunities because we simply do not have the time.
If we invest time or resources on this opportunity, what are the trade-offs? I once heard someone say to choose the books you read very carefully, because you’ll only read a relatively small number of books during your life. The implication: for every book you read, you’re deciding not to read another one. The same is true with opportunities; when we pursue one, we are saying we’ll not pursue another one.
Is this a fleeting opportunity or can it be pursued at a later time? The term window of opportunity is often used to describe something that won’t last forever. I’ve passed on some great opportunities in the past because I believed I would see them again. If you think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you should carefully consider your response.
When opportunity knocks, sometimes you should run to open the door – sometimes you should lock the door.
How do you discern which opportunities to pursue?[GLS_Shield]