Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Should Every Company Have An Enemy?

One interesting characteristic about the book The Art of War, from Sun Tzu, is the consistent reference to the "enemy". In preparing for this post, I happen to come across this quote:

Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards

I started to consider if a company needs an enemy. And based on this post, which depicts Google, Facebook and Reddit as superheroes with a nemesis, I couldn't help but think that enemies are critical for success. But the questions is why? 

Enemies, for better or for worse, focus our attention on the most important things! They call out our weaknesses, as that's what they are mostly trying to exploit. Enemies help us push to the next level of work or skill. Our arch villains give our teams (or soldiers) a singular point to distinguish themselves. The Dalai Lama said, we should value our enemies because they provide us with unique opportunities to practice patience, tolerance and forbearance

But do we need them? Imagine a world with no enemies? And, does a company actually need them to make gains in this world? In an absence of the yin and yang, or polar opposites, we would have no way to gauge ourselves with another. Perhaps the word, "enemy" isn't the right word here, but you get the point. I believe that enemies give our company/lives focus, and without them (or competition) we don't focus, we don't engage (as much) and we don't care. Enemies aren't just an option, they are required! 

Now... Where did that enemy go? 

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