Pirates and Insurgents: The Business Leaders of Tomorrow

Somali Pirates
Mohamed Dahir | Getty Images
Somali Pirates

David James, an English Business professor, has been studying pirates.

Not the guys who sell illegally recorded music and movies—actual pirates. With boats and automatic weapons.

The general premise is this: Pirates get results.

Moreover, pirates get results when a rational accounting of resources would tell you that they ought to be at a major disadvantage.

(When a few guys in an inflatable raft can seize the cargo of a supertanker—worth nine figures—it's worth taking notice.)

So, too with insurgents—who are capable of inflicting grievous harm on military forces that are far better armed and equipped.

(Professor James concedes that he deplores the goals of the insurgents while admiring their 'management structures'.)

What professor James is really driving at here is the power of asymmetry.

And the value of narrow and well-defined goals.

And, of course, how corporate bureaucracy strangles everything it touches.

The original article in the Economist is definitely worth checking out.


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