"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Friday, October 23, 2009


Last night, I just picked out a book from my large stack of books next to my bed, prior to taking my slumber, which has been a personal habit of mine for years.

The book was 'The Advantage Makers: How Exceptional Leaders Win by Creating Opportunities Others Don't', by Steven Feinberg, a turnaround strategist who has spent more than three decades applying the study of human behaviour to performance efficacy.

The first chapter of the book, entitled 'How to Shift the Odds in Your Favour in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times', continued to grab my personal attention, especially with the following story:

"Hundreds of years ago, in medieval Austria, a small but determined army was trying desperately to hold on to its fortress against tremendous odds. For more than six months, the defenders had been surrounded by a hostile army, With no way to contact outside help to replenish their stocks, supplies had dwindled to a desperate level.

Only one cow and two bags of grain were left.

The fortress soldiers, wracked with fatigue and hunger, turned to their commander for guidance.

Expecting their leader to say the expected, "Ration the food for as long as we can hold out," they were astonished and perturbed when they received a different, radical reply.

"Kill the cow, stuff it with all the grain we have, and toss it over the walls when the next wave of attack ensues."

This seemed illogical, foolhardy, and dangerous.

During the next attack, they followed the unexpected order and heaved the grain-stuffed cow over the wall. Without a doubt, they anticipated a slow, anguish death by starvation. To this day we don't know why the soldiers complied.

But the commander had foreseen something that no one else had.

Confused by the bovine assault, several of the attackers took the cow back to their officer's tent. The attacking officer saw it for what it was - a signal of defiance from the fortress commander, as well as well as a message that his soldiers had the will to fight on. If they could afford to throw a cow stuffed with excess grain over the wall, he reasoned, they must have vast stores of supplies, enough to last the entire winter. he ordered an immediate retreat."

To paraphrase the author, this is a great example of applying the strategy of shifting focus to produce a novel solution.

The fortress commander stepped outside the logic of the battle and delivered an unexpected message.

The counter-intuitive, resoundingly clear message:

"We have plenty of supplies; prepare for a long battle."

Clearly, the competition didn't know he was up against an Advantage Maker, who was able to shift his vantage point 180 degrees to see opportunities, solutions and strategies others didn't even know existed.

Did I enjoy reading the book? Oh, Yes!

Are there any other goodies in the book? You bet!

I must say it's packed with new ideas, techniques, exercises, and checklists that will transform the way you view every business challenge... so you can find the winning solutions that are hidden in plain sight!

I often love to read - & reread for inspiration - books of such a genre. My personal library is packed with such books.

[More information about the author, his book, & his 'Advantage Maker' methodology, can be found at his corporate website.]

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