Shifting Strategy – When Is The Time Right?

Here is an interesting piece about shifting strategy.

Anticipating the need to make bold strategic shifts is one of the most pressing tasks facing CEOs and investors. And missing the appropriate window for an effective strategic shift can be dire: A generation ago, Digital Equipment Corporation—then a leader in the minicomputer business—missed the personal computer era, fell into decline, and was acquired by Compaq in 1998. Currently, telecommunications giants such as Verizon are trying desperately to ensure they don't miss similar shifts toward new technologies such as wireless data and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

This raises a couple of interesting questions. First of all, are strategy shifts discontinuous? I don't think they have to be, but the article seems to imply it. I think strategy can slowly evolve along with markets and still work well.

Secondly, when is too soon for a strategy shift? Companies have struggled, some even to the point of going out of business, because they were just too early on the scene and consumers weren't ready. You can't just see what is coming, you have to know when consumers are ready to make the shift.