James Surowiecki – of Wisdom of the crowds fame – has a nice little piece on Boeing and Airbus in the New Yorker using recent reports of their relative fortunes as an example of premature rush to judgement.
Because we underestimate how much variation can be caused simply by luck, we see patterns where none exist. It’s no wonder that management theory is dominated by fads: every few years, new companies succeed, and they are scrutinized for the underlying truths that they might reveal. But often there is no underlying truth; the companies just happened to be in the right place at the right time. In 1999, after all, it was hard to find a business book that didn’t hold up Enron as the embodiment of one important principle or other. Of course, some strategies and structures work better than others, but real meaning emerges only over the long term. Let’s give Airbus a few more years of floundering before we decide that it should be put out of its misery. [The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town]
Via Crooked timber.
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