The Strategy of Waiting

 Cartoon courtesy of Mister GC,

Cartoon courtesy of Mister GC,

In his influential work, "The Peter Principle," Laurence Peter wrote, "Our leaders in politics, science, education, industry and the military have insisted that we go as fast as we can and as far as we can inspired only by the blind faith that great input will produce great output." Though penned in 1969, those words ring true today.

I often hear our clients say things such as:

  • We are on the cutting edge of our industry
  • We're going to be first to market with this product concept
  • We have to stay several steps ahead of our competition.

And as they are speaking, I often wonder to myself, "What's the hurry?"

I am a firm believer that there is sound strategy in waiting. No, it's not as exciting as pushing ahead and it doesn't make adrenaline pump through the veins like being first in something, but sometimes it just makes sense to let other people go first so you can watch the fall-out.

First does not necessarily equate to excellence. And strategically chosen, the waiting game may allow you to learn from others' successes and failures, and to create a dominant position in the marketplace.

As the old saying goes, "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

What's your hurry?