The Revolving Door Of Opportunity

When we think of opportunity, we refer to a window: The Window of Opportunity as a metaphor, symbol or conceptual representation of a space, which – if open – is possible to get through (why is it not a door then?) or perhaps pass something through, if not a human body equivalent.

The Window of Opportunity is basically a static and binary value proposition with two possible end states or scenarios: open or closed. At a stretch, we could introduce a third state, which indicates some kind of movement over time: For example, “Hey you had better move quickly, because the window is closing.” There is no equivalent for the converse: the window is opening.

It’s a framework of sorts that to date has worked well for the industry, but I think it’s time to update or evolve this idea. I feel the Window of Opportunity (WoO) is way oversimplified (kind of like a certain traditional funnel). We don’t really have a sense of urgency to attach to the timing associated with missing out on (gulp) the next big thing…or at least the next big thing for our brand(s).



In its place, let me propose a different way to think about “opportunity” and/or its partner in crime, “opportunity cost”: instead of a window of opportunity, why not consider a revolving door?

A revolving door introduces the concept of motion and fluidity. The space in which to maneuver in this case is constantly changing – opening and closing -  and timing is therefore key; step in too early or too late and you’re likely to face plant against the glass or even worse, get jammed or even crushed between the door frames.

There’s an element of Danger that would even excite Carlos (sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Perhaps the primary characteristic of the revolving door – and thus, the difference between the window and revolving door – is the implication of, and impact on, innovation, change and risk. What I love about the revolving door is the dynamic and circular motion that implies you can be on the inside, then outside, then inside again. In other words, opportunity is a journey, not a destination.  Just as innovation is a process, as opposed to a project.

The only constant in the revolving door is change itself. The implication is that failure is relative. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. What failed today may succeed tomorrow. If you missed the opportunity today, perhaps it will come back or perhaps it won’t. Perhaps you’ll end up on the outside looking in. Perhaps you’ll be paralyzed with fear, unable to step in, or trapped in a vicious cycle, unable to step out (kind of like Clark Griswold in the traffic circle scene in “National  Lampoon’s European Vacation.”)

At a conference in 2012, Marc Andreessen boldly said that he believed EVERY SINGLE failed dot-com startup from the dot-com bubble, would – if launched today – succeed. That’s a revolving door of coming full circle if ever I’ve seen one.

What do you think about replacing the window of opportunity with a revolving door How would you build on this analogy? Is there another metaphor that works better?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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