Robert McNamara wrote The Fog of War to document his history as Secretary of Defense (USA) during the Vietnam era. He set out a set of “lessons” about war that also beautifully apply to how we as business owners work with those we view as “competition.” I'm a fan of collaboration, and after studying McNamara's lessions, I think he is, too. Here is his list. See how many useful busness ideas YOU can gain from McNamara's wisdom.
- Empathize with your “enemy” (get into their skin, understand them).
- Rationality will not save the day.
- There's something beyond one's self.
- Maximize efficiency (proportionality should be a guideline in “war”).
- Think about killing and conflict – do we want this in today's world?
- Get the data.
- Belief and seeing are often BOTH wrong.
- Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning.
- In order to do good, you may have to resort to evil.
- Never say never.
- You can't change human nature.
Some of these tenets are, to me, hard to swallow. But on the other hand they give me a lot of room for thought about what it means to stand for something strongly, yet be flexible and open to seeing the chance for change. I believe that at least some of McNamara's lessons serve entrepreneurs and small business owners. See if you can work with these in ways that helps your own business to thrive.
(c) Sue Painter