Daniel Von Fange

Life, Code, and Cool Stuff

Success - the Worst Teacher of Success

<p><blockquote>Success, he argues, is the worst teacher of success.</blockquote></p>

<p>&#8220;What the heck?&#8221;, I thought, as I read this in a Fast Company <a href="http://pf.fastcompany.com/magazine/76/revolution.html">article on Clayton Christensen</a>. I stopped reading and went to bed wondering. The next morning I got up, and I had an email from a squad leader in a computer game, giving his tips for leading a successful squad, and asking for mine. I had led the most success squad in that particular game, and yet almost point for point, what we did was opposite of what he did.</p>

<p>It&#8217;s vital to be able to able to choose attributes to circumstances, and not just pick &#8220;positive&#8221; attributes. On of the most amazing feats the Lawrence of Arabia pulled off was his realization that attributes, strategies, and tactics that were positive for European armies were bad in his circumstances. Until today I never really, really, realized that most attributes are not positive, or negative &#8211; but are positive or negative according to the circumstances.  </p>

<p><blockquote>Good theory isn&#8217;t about copying attributes, says Christensen. That&#8217;s just strapping on feathers and hoping they&#8217;ll make you fly. It&#8217;s about discovering the &#8220;underlying causal mechanism behind the success&#8221; and identifying the circumstances in which a solution works and those in which it doesn&#8217;t. </blockquote></p>

<p>(Link via <a href="http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2004/01/book_reviews_48.html">Robert Paterson</a>)</p>