‘Pay attention’: Hard lessons from the poker table

Poker is like real life. Every game, every hand, is a fresh scenario, with certain constraints. Some elements known, some unknown. Partly based on the probabilities of the cards. Partly based on the skills and personalities of the players who come and go from the table. Partly based on the room you are in, the distractions, how well you slept. Whether you are winning or losing. Like that.

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View from the mountaintop

Meet a brilliant strategist who is skeptical of strategic planning, the stock market, and PowerPoint presentations.

Strategy and innovation have much in common, not all of it pretty. They are the questing beasts of mythology let loose in the world of business, which most of the time is concerned with process, maintenance, the status quo—what Richard Rumelt calls “doorknob polishing.” Rumelt is a professor of strategy at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Considered “the strategist’s strategist,” he was interviewed by the global management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Continue reading “View from the mountaintop”

Lessons from the Bell Curve

Strategy and innovation, the highest functions of reason and creativity, combine careful planning with improvisation—and the ability to turn on a dime.

In my last column, I quoted the definition of strategy given by Richard Rumelt, a professor of business strategy at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. To paraphrase: the essence of strategic thinking is speculation. The key word is “speculation.” Success usually appears during periods of stability, when the systems we have designed are producing the outcomes we desire. During these prosperous times, we may forget the earlier stages when we planted the seeds of future opportunity. There was uncertainty, soul searching, and trial and error—a certain fumbling around. A mathematician friend of mine came up with the phrase “data momentum” to describe most of what happens in our lives: 90% is driven by what happened yesterday, by forces that have already been set in motion. Continue reading “Lessons from the Bell Curve”