Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summary or lessons learned from Gladwell's David beats Goliath by S Holle

Gladwell's David beats Goliath is a excellent review of a winning strategy for the underdogs or the David's of the world.

My summary and key lessons learned are as follows

Leadership stance and deportment is important. "He would speak calmly and softly, and convince the players of the wisdom of his approach with appeals to reason and common sense".

Winning is not about egos and playing conventionally were the opponent has all advantages. Why, then, did weak teams play in a way that made it easy for good teams to do the very things that made them so good?

  • When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win,Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.

The political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft recently looked at every war fought in the past two hundred years between strong and weak combatants. The Goliaths, he found, won in 71.5 per cent of the cases. That is a remarkable fact.

Arreguín-Toft was analyzing conflicts in which one side was at least ten times as powerful—in terms of armed might and population—as its opponent, and even in those lopsided contests the underdog won almost a third of the time.

When an underdog fought like David, he usually won. But most of the time underdogs didn’t fight like David. Of the two hundred and two lopsided conflicts in Arreguín-Toft’s database, the underdog chose to go toe to toe with Goliath the conventional way a hundred and fifty-two times—and lost a hundred and nineteen times. In 1809, the Peruvians fought the Spanish straight up and lost; in 1816, the Georgians fought the Russians straight up and lost; in 1817, the Pindaris fought the British straight up and lost; in the Kandyan rebellion of 1817, the Sri Lankans fought the British straight up and lost; in 1823, the Burmese chose to fight the British straight up and lost. The list of failures was endless. In the nineteen-forties, the Communist insurgency in Vietnam bedevilled the French until, in 1951,the Viet Minh strategist Vo Nguyen Giap switched to conventionalwarfare—and promptly suffered a series of defeats. George Washington did the same in the American Revolution, abandoning the guerrilla tactics that had served the colonists so well in the conflict’s early stages. “As quickly as he could,”William Polk writes in “Violent Politics,” a history of unconventional warfare, Washington “devoted his energies to creating a British-type army, the Continental Line. As a result, he was defeated time after time and almost lost the war.”

Winning Strategy,tactics and tips for the underdogs, change agents or idea insurgents


Play the whole field and use the rules unconventionally to your advantage , “he should wage war over the broadest territory possible”. Lawrence of Arabia

  • Attack the Turks (Goliaths} where they were or are weak

  • Understand your resources and peopleOur cards were speed and time, not hitting power,” Lawrence wrote. “Our largest available resources were the tribesmen, men quite unused to formal warfare, whose assets were movement, endurance, individual intelligence, knowledge of the country, courage.

  • Effort wins over skill. We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It’s the other way around. “Effort can trump ability—legs, in Saxe’s formulation, can overpower arms—because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coordination.”

  • Try harderright attitude teach them skills in that short period of time, and so all we did was make sure they were fit and had some basic understanding of the game.

  • That’s why attitude plays such a big role in this, because you’re going to get tired.” He turned to Craig. “What was our cheer again?”The two men thought for a moment, then shouted out happily, in unison, “One, two, three, ATTITUDE!”

  • Operate in real time not lag time and win through endurance

    Insurgents,though, operate in real time. Lawrence hit the Turks, in that stretch in the spring of 1917, nearly every day, because he knew that the more he accelerated the pace of combat the more the war became a battle of endurance—and endurance battles favors the insurgent. “And it happened as the Philistine arose and was drawing near David that David hastened and ran out from the lines toward the Philistine,” the Bible says. “And he reached his hand into the pouch and took from there a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead.” The second sentence—the slingshot part—is what made David famous. But the first sentence matters just as much. David broke the rhythm of the encounter. He speeded it up. “The sudden astonishment when David sprints forward must have frozen Goliath, making him a better target,”


    Know their weakness and power and use it to your advantage

    • Staying power-The prospect of playing by David’s rules was too daunting. They would rather lose.

    • Contempt and arrogance -The price that the outsider pays for being so heedless of custom is, of course, the disapproval of the insider.Goliath does not simply dwarf David. He brings the full force of social convention against him; he has contempt for David.

    • Power levers and time -They will change the rules so that they can win.”It’s wrong to sink your own ships, they believed. And they were right. But let’s remember who made that rule: Goliath. And let’s remember why Goliath made that rule: when the world has to play on Goliath’s terms, Goliath wins.”

    • Poor mobility to act independently- Time lag, the batch universe with multi lines of authority and approvals means poor response times.

    • Engagement rules. They are regimented by their own insider rules. The other gamers were people steeped in military strategy and history.They were the sort who could tell you how Wellington had outfoxed Napoleon at Waterloo, or what exactly happened at Antietam. They had been raised on Dungeons and Dragons. They were insiders. Eurisko, on the other hand, knew nothing but the rule book. It had no common sense.”

    • Decision Lag Effect
      “Such people are powerfully invested in the notion of the Fed as a Solomonic body: that pause of five or eight weeks between economic adjustments seems central to the process of deliberation. This“deliberation”just prettifies the difficulties created by lag.

      How to win- that becomes the pivotal question?

      Historically David’s win through effort and when they follow their own rules of engagement , out do, overwhelm or overpower their opposition in unconventional ways. They have the mobility of action, staying power,and advantage in real time scenarios and can use Goliath weaknesses to their advantage.

      David can more then equalize and win in the playing field against Goliath if he plays by his own winning rules.

      S.Holle -a Goliath turned David through necessity

      Your comments, input and examples please. Sieg Holle

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