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Apples and Oranges

by Miki Saxon

apples-and-orangesHat tip to Dan McCarthy who cites a study by Deloitte and asks whether best practices are reality or illusion.

Their research shows that luck alone can account for above average corporate performance for many years.

I haven’t read the study, but I did read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and there is a lot to be said for luck.

Not the kind of luck that wins a lottery, but the “right time, right place” kind.

I saw it first hand during my 20+ years headhunting. When the economy was hot and talent scarce anybody could (and did) become recruiters because companies were so desperate they hired almost every warm body that even vaguely fit the opening.

During the expansion of the nineties, what percentage of a stock rising was skill and how much market serendipity? By the same token how much of the rise was leadership skill and how much a market that not only lifted all boats, but also responded with outsize euphoria to anything that sounded good?

This applies just as much to individuals.

I’m not saying that skill isn’t important or that it won’t offset many factors, but so is timing.

The problem is that you can’t choose when you are born or what the economy will be like when you reach the corner office or get that great promotion; you can only do your best with the situation in which you find yourself.

So when you do look to others for pointers and best practices, be sure that the economy and their circumstances are the same as yours or at least parallel enough to be worthwhile.

Think about it.

Image credit: TheBusyBrain on flickr

One Response to “Apples and Oranges”
  1. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] written several times referencing Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and it’s come up in numerous conversations […]

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