Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ben Eibhinn: Conquering the giants.


Malcolm Gladwell: The unheard story of David and Goliath

I'm not sure if Malcolm Gladwell was the first speaker at TEDTalks who used an incident that took place some 3000 years ago in ancient Palestine to state his point - a story that he said he was obsessed with when he was writing his new book.  I was intrigued to hear a 'Gladwellian' perspective from this particular story about a shepherd named David defeated a giant named Goliath -- a metaphor that is now commonly used to describe an unlikely victory.

'David and Goliath' is a classic underdog story.  Yet as Gladwell was focussed on the giant, I never really realized how 'the source of Goliath's apparent strength is also the source of his apparent weakness - giants are not as strong as they seem'.  I heard this story many times in my childhood... and I think we always looked at David as the central character of the story.  Not Goliath.  

Scenario Planning and our 'giant'-ism impairment 
On the first 2-weeks block of our course, our class had gone through the Scenario Planning exercises as a powerful tool for strategic thinking in the current business world -- what else but to help managers making their organizations successful. 

One of the first things our lecturer told us every time we are about to step in the class was to hang our coat at the door -- and leave our job title there too.  
His reasoning was that attitudes that stem from prideful statements like 'I'm a director of so-and-so company', 'I've been CEO for 20 years', 'I came here with years of managerial expertise', etc, would not much help someone to take in valuable lessons in an MBA class. 

I could concur how our job titles, our salary, and our 'breed' could easily become our 'acromegaly', a 'tumor' that hinders us to see that we're not as great as we thought we are.  As the tumor enlarge and growing it will significantly reduce your vision, and lead to vision impairment. 

Moreover, the EIBE module has provided us with 'giants' in their field who then failed to maintain their presence in the market.  Poor controls in quality, budgets, costs, immature management style, along with failure in communicating business ideas were some of the striking and highlighted causes why a (giant) organization fail.  And at some point of these 'giants' corporate history, they may have missed out the presence of a 'shepherd with his five stones and a sling in his pocket', an underdog, a new player that took over the market share and became even more successful.  

Showing up persistently with the right attitude of open-mindedness, disciplined,  focussed and a humility that's carefully and consciously maintained are still valuable to possess as an MBA student.  And beyond. 

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