Having good timing is often cited as critical to success. For example, if you present a project at the wrong time, it may die a quick death. But if you unveil it at just the right time, then success can be yours. But how do you know when the time is right? Instincts? Luck?
In a new book “When: The Art and Science of Perfect Timing,” author Stuart Albert uses decades of research to explain that having the right timing is really about skill. In an interview with Anita Bruzzese, Albert discusses why timing is more important than ever and how you can improve yours.
AB: Why is the right timing so important in business and in your career?
SA: We often say that ‘timing is everything.’ Take any action – whether it’s selling your home or saying ‘yes’ to a proposal – and if you do it too early or too late, the results will be less than satisfactory.
Speed is not always the right answer. Getting the timing right is.
After all, you don’t want to be first to fail, so early that the market isn’t ready or the conditions aren’t right. My book is filled with stories of individuals and organizations who took action at the wrong time, and suffered as a result – and why those mistakes didn’t have to happen.
AB: In your book, you say that good timing is not just about luck, intuition or past experiences. You say that good timing is really a skill. What do you mean by that?
SA: Good timing requires that you learn to read the dynamics of your environment. To do that you need to train your eyes to see six elements that are present in every environment. It turns out that these six elements are hidden in plain sight. This book describes them and tells you how to use information they contain to make better decisions in general.
AB: You say that most of us never notice the sequences, rates, rhythms and other events that can help us make better timing decisions and be more successful. How did you come to hone in on those factors?
SA: The short answer is that I spent 20+ years examining more than 2,000 timing issues and errors, worked with a number of companies in different industries, and I found that the same six elements or factors kept coming up over and over again.
AB: Can you provide an example of someone perhaps losing a promotion or a customer because of bad timing?
SA: There are too many timing mistakes, and all are painful. So let me speed on to another topic rather than take that turnoff because this book describes how to find opportunities as well as avoid mistakes.
Think about the design of consumer products. For example, look at the upside-down ketchup bottle. Before that design we used to pick up the bottle, turn it over, and pound on it to get the ketchup to come out. What the new bottle did is move us one step downstream in the sequence of use. The bottle is already turned over and is ready to pour. An obvious improvement. Why did it take so long to arrive at this design? My book explains why it did (see more here)
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