Every Model Is Wrong But Some Are Useful

This is a great one.  Well it would be great if it was accurate lol – the actual quote (from George Box) is “all models…”.  Unless Hugh MacLeod (aka gaping void) was using recursion by misstating the quote 🙂



It’s very Taoist. … the ungraspability, the undefinability of reality … the pragmatism about whatever works works … until it doesn’t.  The opposite of Confucian certainties about right and wrong.  The opposite of the West’s current love affair with ludicrously complex laws, regulation and bureaucracy.

So what’s the application to BizDev?

I think the important thing is to realise there is no such thing as “A Right Process” for BizDev.  When I first started doing business in Japan in the 80s I recall being told all the usual stuff about where one sits in the room depending on rank, how to hold meetings etc etc. And then I found that half the time the other side were as bored of this as me.  The younger Japanese were much happier if I discarded that, whipped out a blank sheet of paper and started scribbling to show them something in a different way from what they were used to.

As I wrote in Wu-wei and What’s the Ideal Presentation? sometimes the answer is no presentation.

But this balance is hard to find.  It’s very easy to fall on having too little structure if you are a small company … but then you risk losing the discipline of at least aiming to attract interest via marketing and converting interest to contracts via sales.  Equally it’s easy for medium to big companies to set up departments who then just focus on their bit of the package.

In a kind of English compromise its then easy to think that “the answer lies in the middle” – some, but not too much, structure.

But that is also to fall too much for the Platonic dagger at the heart of the western psyche … The Right Answer.  It’s an abstraction … it doesn’t exist.

I think that a very un-Taoisty metaphor which explains this Taoist essence well is that of riding a motorbike round a windy mountain road.  Sometimes you are leaning left, sometimes right. At any point one relies on instinct, training and intuition to keep the bike dynamically balanced.  A “right” answer is like a stuck clock – only rarely correct.

So the corollary of all this is – by all means learn your tunes. Have your processes. Start from somewhere.  But art and music start when the music takes off and riffs away based on time and place.

How fixed are you in your BizDev approach?  Do you vary it depending on time and place enough? Or do you just “bowl the same line and length” every time and so miss taking wickets you could have otherwise taken?



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