OPINION20 December 2019

Planning for opportunism

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Opinion UK

People instinctively understand opportunism which is why Fomo is so powerful, but businesses could learn from this writes Rory Sutherland.


How much of life is the product of simple luck rather than forward planning? That chance meeting; a misdialled telephone number; an encounter at a party you never planned to attend?

Answer honestly, and you’ll be surprised how much in life is down to random chance. You can’t really plan for luck. The best you can do is plan to be around when lucky happens. This halfway house between planning and randomness can best be called opportunism. “You have to go hunting every night. Maybe one night in 14 you’ll get lucky… And you don’t know what you’re looking for, but you know it when you see it.” Okay, that’s a quotation from serial killer Son of Sam, and so not the most attractive source material. But Mindhunter came on the TV at the very moment I began typing this article, and it seemed too perfect a description of opportunism to waste.

People instinctively understand opportunism; I’m not sure businesses do. ...