Timelessness and Timeliness

Long and winding road

The most important concepts in business are timeless. That’s why Peter Drucker’s articles and books are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them twenty to forty years ago. Questions pondering the goal of business, how leaders paint a vision, or why small changes make a company innovative are timeless. Industries may change but the timeless concepts do not.

When we confuse timeliness with timelessness we have a problem. Timeliness is “occurring at a suitable or opportune time” while timelessness is “unaffected by time”. Both can occur simultaneously but one should not substitute the other. Both are important but we need to know when to be timely and when to be timeless.

Concepts are timeless; actions are timely. Ideas are timeless; plans are timely.

If we confuse timelessness with timeliness we could be in the danger of going nowhere – endlessly asking why or trying to perfect the product and never “shipping it” as Seth Godin would say.

If we makes decisions based purely on timeliness we might regret those decisions in the long run when our haste to get results or take action should have been tempered with some strategic thinking, or understanding our customer better, or going the extra mile for our stakeholders or jumping to another innovation curve.

We need to distinguish between what is timeless and what is timely. Two great quotes to end today’s post:

Timeless:
“Time doesn’t seem to pass here: it just is.”
JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Timeliness:
Make use of time, let not advantage slip.
William Shakespeare

Photo: camerondavidson.com

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