Monday, October 6, 2008

Timing is Everything

While I was working in product marketing, I always heard people talking about “time-to-market,” and how important it was to get products to market as quickly as possible. Instinctively, this sounds good, but in reality what is important is “timeliness to market.” What that means is that you need to get your product to the market just before the market starts to develop.

I am reminded of a parable that was told to me by a great mentor while I was at Texas Instruments concerning timing. It was called Unfolding a Rose.
A young student, whose wife had just bore him a baby girl, was walking with his wise Teacher in a garden, explaining his loss at understanding life, his daughter's purpose, and how was he, who knew nothing, expected to shape a new life.

The old man simply plucked a rose bud from a large, very old vine. "Here, open this without tearing or damaging any petals."

He tried as the Teacher had bid him; yet, but he could not unfold the rose without damaging it, no matter how gentle and careful he was. "Sir, I cannot do this with causing harm."

The elder man pulled down an open rose and deeply inhaled, "This one did fine on its own, without our help, did it not?"

The student simply nods. "My good friend trust in God, have faith in the order of the Universe, for the rose bud will unfold as is its nature.”

The elder Teacher puts his arm around the young father's shoulders, "Let your little girl be the rosebud, nurture her, love her, and give her what she needs to grow, she'll unfold in time, as I did long ago, and as you are now..."

While you cannot expect products to sell themselves, the parable is poignant because if you release products when the market is ready, it seems like everything unfolds just as you planned it. The trick is timeliness.