Friday, August 28, 2009

Conquest's Law

First posted 18 August 2004

Historian Robert Conquest observed that "everyone is conservative about what he knows best." There is a lot of truth in that statement.

From this it must follow that revolutionaries don't know what they are talking about.

In a business context Conquest's Law suggests that those who promote the Next New Thing-- be they consultants, IT salesmen, journalists, or would-be gurus-- fall into one of two categories:

1. Ignorant, naive amateurs whose knowledge of the subject is superficial but whose enthusiasm is genuine.

2. Cynical hucksters who know better but hope their audience does not.

As for the executives who fall prey to the charlatans and enthusiasts, this passage by Andre Maurois often fits:

Like all intelligent men who are not in any way creative, Sir Robert Peel was dangerously sympathetic towards the creations of others. Incapable of formulating a system, he threw himself voraciously on those he came across, and applied them more vigorously than would their inventors.

See also:
Fad-surfing and corralled rebellion

Doctrine and Fad Surfing

No comments: