Gangsterism eats strategy for breakfast

This post is a warning against nefarious individuals.

From the lyrics to (Anglo-Irish Celtic punk band) The Pogues' supreme anti-war musical masterpiece "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - which describes the experiences of an Australian infantryman during and after the First World War's Battle of Gallipoli:

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

The Life of a Rover

This writer (Marius) has, over many years, had the fortune (and, at times, misfortune) of having worked for, on behalf of, and with, tens (if not many hundreds) of companies.

Living the "free life of a rover", so to speak.

The Everything Theory of Outperformance

Wide sets of experiences enable observations of countless instances of corporate failure, mediocrity, and outperformance.

From these experiences an outperformance theory-of-everything crystalized.

Yet, our book about outperformance covers only one outperformance-achievement approach. Another approach was left out of the book.

Approach 1: The outperformance approach that we advocate.

Approach 2: Outperformance driven by 'Supreme Overlords'; the 'God-Kings'; the Steve Jobs', Elon Musk's, Jeff Bezos', etc. And, in a wider sense of the word, also the Genghis Kahn's, the Alexander the Great's, the American Robber Barons, and many more.

The Superior Approach

The second approach certainly seems to be the vastly superior approach. It delivers much bigger sets of results. And, these leaders are often lionized and revered.

Hence there are many more books and analyses on what made these types of uber-successes possible. And, many more people are interested in learning how these God-Kings managed to achieve what they achieved; millions more than are interested in the 'Cherryflava-road' to outperformance. Heck, in the shelf above where this post is now being typed are books about each and every one of those 'giants' mentioned above - and more too.

The Superior Approach?

So, why don't we rather jump on that bandwagon?

Well, there are simply just too many reasons to mention here, but the top reason is probably somewhere along the lines of the fact that, no matter how much we study and implement Usain Bolt's training methods, we could never achieve what he achieved. He simply has sets of talents that almost no-one else has.

A second top reason is that God-King-driven companies can easily fall into the bandit-company domain.

Our Delusions?

So, what does any of this have to do with our post-title, namely 'Gangsterism Eats Strategy for Breakfast'?

Almost all of us are smart enough to know that we cannot compete against Usain Bolt or Magnus Carlsen. We are, in fact, smart enough to know that we cannot even compete against at least a few thousand competitors ranked below people like that.

Yet, most of us believe that we can be wonderfully successful in our careers and in business.

In both of these sets of beliefs, we are probably right. Yes, there are only a few people good enough to grab the sprinting-success or chess-grandmaster-success spoils, but there are many more 'spoils' to be 'shared' in our business lives.

The 'Gangsterism' Approach

More spoils for more people and for more companies is a good thing, isn't it?

Well, yes, it is, except that if it is easier for 'benign' people to have success, it is also easier for the sociopaths, psychopaths and 'gangsters' to be successful too. We discussed this under the 'Culture Hell' heading in the sister-post to this one, namely "Culture eating Strategy for Breakfast".

Lots of people have figured out that the 'gangster' approach is a really effective approach in business. Thus they use that approach.

And, when they see the 'benign' systematic approach succeed they will fight back. That's when there is always a really good chance that 'gangsterism' (which goes way beyond 'culture') will eat strategy for breakfast.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Part 1: Duelling

For the innovation hub the first counter to gangsterism is to know that gangsters are always a risk to the hub.

Then one needs to do what we advised in the sister-post, namely:

Knowing about this danger - and continuously taking the same types of steps that were taken during the creation of the scenius - will help mitigate this risk. Renewing the vows, so to speak.

The greater the 'benign' success, the more difficult it is for 'gangsters' to undermine it.

Part 2: Curses

For the organisation (as opposed to the innovation hub) thwarting gangsters is an entirely different question. Let's face facts. The second outperformance approach, when it works, is the superior route. So, few companies will stop outperforming gangsters from climbing the corporate ladders. Hence decision-makers must answer the following two questions:

1.) Will it work?
Success is most certainly not guaranteed. Many would-be God-Kings are fakes (Pseudo-Constantine Diogenes / Harry Domela, etc.). Failures (with a God-King strategy) are common. The systematic approach is a much more guaranteed-to-succeed approach. The system, inter alia, mitigates key-person risk.

2.) Is this God-King also a gangster?
And if the answer to this question is 'yes', there is a third question: "Do we care?".

Types of Danger

Note that this post warns against a danger that differs (subtly) from the warning culture-related warning.

This post is a warning against nefarious individuals (as opposed to 'culture' which, in that sense, pertains to groups of people).

Abbie Richards' Conspiracy Chart may have "Reptilian Overlords" in the top-right "Get Help" corner, yet many of them exist in many corporate environments.