By Allen F. Weitzel
I am back! I took time away to have two full knee replacements. After forty-plus years of playing racquetball, performing western stunt shows/gunfights, and “climbing amusement park iron,” my knees and doctor said it was time for repair work.
Following surgery, many folks asked why I had both knees “done at once.” I said I was taking advantage of a window of opportunity. My reply brought many quizzical responses.
I viewed a double knee surgery as a window of opportunity (WOO) for several reasons. First, my GP and specialty doctors had cleared me for this surgery. If I planned one knee now and another knee months later, some medical issue might crop up rejecting me as a candidate for the second surgery. The second concern was that my insurance coverage could change between a first and second surgery. This bilateral procedure was covered. Additionally, the pain and recovery time would be the same, with only one more day in the hospital, than if I repaired one knee. Some patients who have one knee repaired begin to favor the unrepaired knee and complications arise. Lastly, rehab would impact my family. I only wanted that to happen once. The choice seemed clear. This whole scenario convinced me to share this topic with you.
What Is It?
I am surprised that so many business leaders do not know how to look for, understand, or take advantage of a WOO. A WOO is a chance to analyze, forecast and take advantage of a particular set of circumstances. It is as simple as knowing the subject matter and evaluating the pros and cons of current or upcoming conditions. My key reason to have a bilateral surgery was to put myself through the pain, discomfort and rehab only once.
What Should You Look For?
Using a WOO is merely studying efficiency-driven, risk and reward scenarios. The trick is to spot these important windows and react to them. One simple example of a WOO is being aware of slow moments in park operation and using that time to retrain veteran employees or provide new employees with more extensive training to handle busier days. A WOO can occur when your facility is facing a repair or rehab situation. Instead of making a facility repair, you may elect to perform a more complete rehab, with the long-term advantages and cost savings paying large dividends, not to mention offering a newer facility to your customer.
An opportunity occurred when I was invited to interview for a safety director position at a rival amusement facility. I met with the park GM and she asked what it would take to hire me away from my current position. That was a red flag, itself. I requested a tour of the facility and asked to meet the maintenance director. After the tour and the maintenance meeting, I realized that their park was in much worse shape than our facility and that maintenance would have final oversight on safety. I declined the offer. But, I did receive a great behind the scenes look at a competing operation and learned what not to do. It turned out to be a great a WOO.
Management should always be watching how the facility is operating and applying cause and effect thinking. If I do this, what happens? If I do not do this, what happens? When scheduling meetings about operating topics or upcoming projects, always include one naysayer and one visionary employee in the discussions. Additionally, include a person who understands how to make the idea functional, and a finance person who knows how to forecast current and future costs. Let everyone voice their list of pros and cons. Be sure to factor in the timing of any solution. Timing is crucial to a successful WOO.
My knee surgery decision saved time (mine and my family), saved money (a second surgery could have cost more if I delayed), and I benefited from both knees working in harmony. I offer this surgery as a WOO example because when I was asked why I did two knees at once, and I responded with the above reasons, all listeners replied, “Sounds logical!” That phrase is the basic element for the use of windows of opportunity.
An interesting example of a WOO lives within a 1950’s quote by Thomas J. Watson, Chairman/CEO of IBM, who said, “I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”