The first question asked by a strategic thinker is, “How much time do I have to develop this plan, make this decision, or solve this problem?” This is the factor that will have the most influence on how the individual will proceed. Almost every other aspect of solution generation is dependent upon time constraints.
When time is limited, the strategic thinker is often forced to compromise her investigation into the underlying causes of an issue. Understanding causation of a problem is critical to offering effective solutions. In time sensitive situations, she is forced to rely on experience to determine the ultimate cause for the current dilemma. The value of the solution becomes dependent upon her ability to diagnose the problem quickly. Time pressure makes this process very subjective.
Time pressure also limits her ability to try out her hypothesis or theory. A top performer almost always employs an iterative decision making process. She tests out a solution and makes adjustments and improvements to ascertain that the final answer is the most effective alternative. Severely limiting the amount of time she has to work on a problem will stifle this iterative process and will result in the need for making more changes “on the fly” once the solution is deployed.
This process plays out in real time whenever products are sold to consumers, such as in the case of a farmer’s market. A vendor selling fruit must continuously evaluate the demand for the fruit based upon the time left before it spoils. As the window of time decreases, the vendor reduces the price to stimulate demand. However, if the flow of traffic through his stand is strong, the vendor may decide to hold firm on his price, only reducing it if the buyers show resistance.
Having too much time can also be an issue. In situations where time is unlimited people often try to capture too much information. Because it is almost impossible to complete truly exhaustive research on any topic, these attempts at boiling the ocean result in analysis paralysis.