Windows of opportunity

Recognizing windows of opportunity is an essential skill in program entrepreneurship. It involves tracking three streams in an organization, and recognizing when they align:

  1. The problem stream: What do people think are problems right then? You can change this through problem framing.
  2. The solution stream: What people think of as good solutions. This can be widely held tenets or hot solutions in search of a problem. (“Every team that ever built a CMS here got fired. Not doing that is the right call.” “We need to build something with AI.”)
  3. The political stream: What’s going on with the people. Who has political capital, who doesn’t, what the business is worried about.


Mintrom, Michael. Policy Entrepreneurs and Dynamic Change . Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Policy entrepreneurs look for “windows of opportunity:” moments of alignment between your problem, what’s hot right then, and interest in your preferred solution. p. 13-14

Policy issues get on the agenda, a necessary prerequisite for change, due to changes in different process streams: 1. Problem stream: Where actions are taken to draw attention to specific issues. 2. Policy stream: Specialists generate and debate ideas for policy solutions. 3. Political stream: Election results, changes in administrations, or the ideological makeup of governing bodies. Agenda change emerges when these three process streams align. That is what creates windows of opportunity.

Policy entrepreneurs frame problems so that the people who need to will pay attention. Any problem, especially a complex problem, will have many different attributes. You need to choose the most effective ones for each discussion. p. 14