Updated: What was Machiavelli talking about?


I make NO APOLOGY for re-blogging one of my own posts and a pretty recent one at that!

I wanted to add Japan to the list of unforeseen events and to re-pose (if that isn’t just a word I have made up) the question: what can we, sensibly, “take for granted” or should we always expect and prepare for the unexpected?

What was Machiavelli talking about? Image via Wikipedia   Or is it really important to know? Because many of his words are so profound that they transcend disciplines, scenarios and centuries! “…in its beginning it is easy to cure, but hard to recognise; whereas, after a time, not having been detected and treated at the first, it becomes easy to recognise but impossible to cure.” – Niccolo Machiavelli If I had attributed the statement to: a respected Economist on the subject o … Read More

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What was Machiavelli talking about?


Niccolo Machiavelli 1

Image via Wikipedia

Or is it really important to know? Because many of his words are so profound that they transcend disciplines, scenarios and centuries!

“…in its beginning it is easy to cure, but hard to recognise; whereas, after a time, not having been detected and treated at the first, it becomes easy to recognise but impossible to cure.”

– Niccolo Machiavelli

If I had attributed the statement to: a respected Economist on the subject of sources of the global banking crisis or sovereign debt; an experienced Political commentator about the situation in Egypt;  a GP, talking about Cholesterol; an Oncologist, talking about cancer; an ecologist on global warming; an accident investigator identifying the cause of a man-made disaster; or one of my colleagues referring to business complexity, there may be some scope to debate the finer points but not the “essence” of the message!

Prevention is better than cure!

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Complexity: “Cholesterol for business”


I have used this analogy before but it is certainly worth repeating as the similarities are apparent and potential impact “alarming”…

Business systems suffer from their own version of cholesterol…it’s called…COMPLEXITY. If you don’t test for it you don’t know if it is doing damage to the vital inter-connections upon which your system is dependent!

By the time the outward signs show themselves irreparable damage is done. Sufficiently fit and able to carry out the day-to-day tasks that sustain you but “found wanting” and unable to perform when put under stress e.g. confronted with a physical challenge, fighting a disease, adapting to a change of circumstance. We don’t know what the future holds but we can say that it is more uncertain now than at any time in (at least) a generation!

We are learning more lessons from nature than at any time in our history since “The Origin of Species”.

A business is a system, like the human body. It is reliant upon its component parts and its ecosystem (marketplace, supply chain, etc.) communicating, working efficiently and interdependently to enable it to perform and sustain itself and its stakeholders.

Unlike our bodies a business does have the ability to renew its structure and to thrive again BUT SURVIVAL IS NOT GUARANTEED! A business needs to have sufficient “reserves” and the means to re-generate.

A business that was once fit enough to survive in a familiar environment – like a stable, buoyant, economy – is, not necessarily adequately equipped to do so when the environment changes – a turbulent and unpredictable economy – where, what sustains it is in shorter supply or harder to come by. The business matures (ages) and can lose some of the skills or agility that were once its mainstays. Read more of this post