Timing May Determine Brilliance

Apr 18, 2012

If Wall Street had a big scoreboard showing the individual performance of corporate CEOs, you’d probably find that about eighty percent of them fell pretty much in the middle.

Say a five on a scale of one to ten. About another fifteen percent who did measurably bad jobs. And maybe about five percent who performed in outstanding fashion.

You know that timing is ever so critical. And in the case of that fifteen percent losers it probably was timing that got ‘em.

In the case of Kodak, its CEOs played only defense for so long that there was nothing to defend any more. Talk about bad timing.

In 1993, Sears discontinued its historic mail order catalog operation. Sears mail order catalog operation was simply Amazon waiting to happen. So the very next year Amazon did, indeed, happen.

What if Amazon's creator Jeff Bezos had approached Sears a year earlier with his idea? What if Sears’ CEO had understood Internet potential enough to see the possibilities?

None of us can know exactly what alternatives to closure were considered for Sears catalog operation. But its closure might have been the first nail in Sears’ coffin, and, had it lasted just one more year, Jeff Bezos might still be tinkering in his garage.


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