Beware of Maxims

I’m enjoying the work of Henry Mintzberg particularly Strategy Safari. It’s marvelous tour of those various approaches to business architecture that have attracted a following over the decades. It is a more respectful but still amusing variation of this list of business fads.

When they get around to the school of business architecture founded by Porter they trace it’s roots back into the literature of military strategy. Much of this school’s literature is summed up in pithy one liners. “Supply lines: defend yours, attack his.” or “Metrics!” Maxims have “thought stopping” power. The best defence is humor; for which they offer this:

Maxims about Maxims

  • Most maxims are obvious.
  • Obvious maxims can be meaningless.
  • Some obvious maxims are contradicted by other obvious maxims (such as ‘Concentrate your forces.” and “Remain flexible.”).

So

  • Beware of maxims.

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