Imagine the Deep Blue chess computer playing against…an exact copy of the same software.
Or imagine a battle between two armies both of whose commanders have read the same books – Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Jomini – and are applying the same theories in the same way.
What would the result be? At best, a horribly protracted no-score draw. At worst, a bloodbath (this was the story of the Battle of the Somme).
The same applies in business.
Imagine that you and all of your competitors have read Blue Ocean Strategy. Whenever a tiny bit of blue ocean opens up, everyone heads straight for it and it becomes the redder than red.
Or imagine a crowd of investment firms all with the same investment hypothesis and the same valuation model. The result? A mad scramble for the same small set of opportunities. Prices escalate to a point where investors are guaranteed to lose unless the company turns into the next Facebook.
The point is this. Learning the rules and the standard methods lets you keep up. Getting ahead means breaking the rules and doing something wrong, in a constructive way. You can’t do the usual things. There are two options:
- Look where noone else is looking;
- Notice what’s in front of everyone’s noses, but which they can’t see.
You need to do something unusual. Something completely specific to that particular time and place. Something that nobody else would think of doing, or wouldn’t see the point of doing. Where do you find these unique, unusual strategies?
Start by subscribing to the OutsideEdge Newsletter
This is the leading edge of what I do. Most of what I write is designed to be easy to follow, easy to apply and fairly uncontroversial. The sources, however, are something else. I have learned a lot more from spooks, psychotherapists, neuroscientists and soldiers than I have from business school professors.
In most of what I have published I have obscured these sources, made the connection from theory to practice, from the non-business to the business domain, and given people what they need. But Weird Shit News is the raw stuff, the source. I tell you about the weird stuff and make some suggestions as to why you might find it useful but it’s up to you to join the dots and work out what to do with these strange new ideas.
The OutSideEdge Newsletter does not attempt to be consistent. Items are not a consistent length. They are not a consistent format – they might be text, or audio, or video. Words or pictures. They don’t appear to a consistent schedule.
They don’t attempt to be consistently valuable either. Some items will seem pointless to you, others “interesting but irrelevant.” But you subscribe because just occasionally, something might be transformational. You might just find, as one senior military figure engaged in a major transformation project did, that one idea expressed in 400 words “unlocked a long-closed door” and completely changed his approach to cultural change. Or you might just enjoy something described by someone (now a partner in pwc) as “something between two grumpy guys on a sofa, and metaphysics.”
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