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Be prepared to be wrong


Thinking strategically is about being right about the future, right?

Actually not.

Striving to be right is the biggest blind spot of many strategists. Believing that we can correctly see what lies ahead, we tap into a number of our biases. Overconfidence, anchoring, illusion of control and the Texas sharpshooter fallacy all pull us away from the rational view of the future.

There are more biases but the above should be enough to caution us to expect to falter at least some of the time.

Good strategists always consider being wrong and avoid the temptation of believing too much in their strategies. Paradoxically this makes the strategies better.

Building in scenarios helps us to not be wrong. This is different from being right.

And if you are feeling a little infallible then consider that you would be in good company should you get your strategy wrong:

“The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
- Clifford Stoll, American author, 1995

“I think it will grow but the vast majority of customers in the foreseeable future will continue to prefer a good, old-fashioned printed and bound book.”
- George Jones, CEO of Borders Group, 2008

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
- Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of the Board of IBM, 1943

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.”
- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889

“How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat, 1800s.

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”
- Albert Einstein, 1932

Einstein working on the theory of

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