Friday, September 5, 2014

Necessary But Not Sufficient

I have observed something...The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

Okay, I didn't write that. An old dead guy by the name of Solomon did. However, you can confirm this by looking around you. Recessions affect great, good and bad employees alike. The person in the corner office isn't necessarily the most adept at his or her job. There are plenty of others who could probably do as well as the Fortune 500 CEO's--especially as well as the ones who mess things up; those others just haven't been noticed yet.

With regard to the strongest and so on, Malcolm Gladwell's latest is all about ways the underdog wins. Most militaries want a tenfold advantage before tackling an entrenched foe. According to one researcher, even with that advantage, the smaller army wins nearly 1 in 3 times. If the underdog exploits its strength and plays the (business) game unconventionally--though still legally--the win percentage for the smaller adversary skyrockets to nearly 2 out of 3 times. The dominant foe loses more times than it wins.

Maybe Solomon is saying, scrap all your strategies. Do what you do best and seek out the methods and markets at which you'd have an advantage. Don't just copy what others are doing. You might end up losing most of the time. Certainly, strategic plans, budgets, hierarchical chain of command structures might be necessary to operate...but they're not sufficient to win.

Here's another bit of wisdom that has impressed me as I have watched the way our world works. There was a small town with only a few people, and a great king came with his army and besieged it. A poor wise man knew how to save the town, and so it was rescued. But afterward no one thought to thank him. So even though wisdom is better than strength, those who are wise will be despised if they are poor. What they say will not be appreciated for long.*
* Solomon again.

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