Increasing the Odds of a Windfall
When the unexpected benefits of a decision are significant, we call it a windfall. Usually, when we think of a windfall, we envision unexpected profits or unusual financial gains. Winning the lottery is a windfall most of us would like to experience.
Sometimes, a windfall is just lucky. For example, catching the tailwinds of a market that rebounds or finding that a social media message has gone viral and created new demand for a product or service is more about luck than skill.
Other times, a windfall occurs when unexpected positive outcomes materialize without any plan. For instance, no one ever thought aspirin would also work as an anti-coagulant or that demilitarized zones would create natural habitats for wildlife.
Leaders of all stripes enjoy the benefits of a windfall. Planning for them is nearly impossible, but priming the pump so they are more likely to happen is something crafty leaders can do.
Having the foresight to see changes in the market, regulatory environment, or consumer demand before they become clear is what visionary leadership is all about. When leaders search for emerging patterns and visualize what might happen, they can take baby steps to benefit from what they believe might emerge as a trend.
Only extreme risk-takers bet the house on speculation about what might happen. But when leaders position resources to provide the goods, services, or offerings where they might be needed most in the near term, they increase the odds of a potential windfall. This isn’t as hard or complicated as it sounds, especially for leaders who spend an inordinate amount of time gauging the marketplace in their respective areas of endeavor.
Windfalls normally follow the bumpy path of good fortune, but like all unexpected outcomes, leaders can increase the probability of chance by thinking creatively about what is around the corner and looming unseen overhead. When an opportunity appears on the horizon, the lucky are better prepared for it.