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Chance

Chance

Luck is blind, but bad luck can see very well, and often takes aim” (Roberto “Freak” Antoni)

I had to give up with the translation of another aphorism, due to the impossibility of playing with a specific Italian word which is much more picturesque than “chance” and can be interpreted in different ways in the (rather scurrilous) everyday jargon.

For the same reason, I guess that the labels of the three-dimensional model that I’ll discuss in a coming article won’t be as picturesque as they are in Italian, but hope I’ll be able to make the point, showing how the three dimensions can greatly affect results.

I had described this model in one of the “stories” of our old book, with the title “Diamonds and chance: how, when, and why I was ‘copied’ by Michael Porter”, and was hoping that, in the meantime, somebody could contribute to the improvement of the model with the inclusion, thanks to appropriate algorithms, of a fourth dimension, that had only been superficially evoked.

I am introducing the critical role of chance in this article, and will present the entire model in another one, stay tuned!

A bit of history

Long time ago, at the beginning of my four-year teaching experience in California (the good old days!) I had written the first draft of the now famous (so to speak) booklet “The 77 key concepts in marketing and business life”, subsequently complemented and improved by my coauthors to become the 2007 book with 99 concepts (see below).

Let’s forget the fact that Philip Kotler had the nice idea of ‘copying’ me with the publication, 15 years later, of “Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know”, John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Not so dumb!  He had added three concepts to prevent being discovered, but I didn’t sue him: first of all because it’s him, and second because the dumb it’s me, for not having published the booklet in English 15 years earlier.

One of my key concepts was precisely “chance”: in Italian, I had used a more picturesque word than its literal translation from English (see above), but this is the word used by none other than the famous strategy guru Michael M. Porter!

You won’t believe it, but also Michael had impudently ‘copied’ me (same reasoning as above about the idea of suing him) with the publication of one of his fundamental tomes (The Competitive Advantage of Nations, The Free Press, 1990: 738 pages, appendices excluded), identifying in the chance factor one of the most important variables that can even affect the success of nations!

Considering the obvious importance of this topic, I want to share with you my profound meditations about the explanatory model I developed over years of research and studies: you’ll tell me if it’s worth publishing its conclusions worldwide, so that, if they copy me again, I would really sue them!

Porter’s “diamond”

I won’t go into details, but at this point it’s worth reminding the so-called “diamond” model suggested by Michael in the above-mentioned book, in order to graphically describe the major factors that affect nations’ fortunes or failures.

As you can see in the following figure, the chance factor (which can have a positive or negative impact), exemplified by Porter with possible political decisions of other countries, wars, various cataclysms (the current pandemic would have been an appropriate example), technological or financial “discontinuities”, etc., affects the four structural and “endogenous” factors described in the diamond’s center.

In particular, you must have immediately seen that, under the label “firm strategy, structure, and rivalry”, hides the other even more famous Porter’s model, on which I do not dwell.

You will also notice that, while the other exogenous factor that represents governments’ actions is connected to structural factors by bi-directional arrows (reciprocal impact), the chance factor only works in one direction: i.e., we cannot interfere modifying its nature and behavior.

Besides, the figure lacks a dashed arrow, since, in the real life, the chance factor also affects governments’ behavior, but we can forgive Michael for that and more!

In any case, since chance is so important in nations’ life and, in particular, in the evolution of production factors, market demand, and organizations, just think how could it be critical in people’s lives and, specifically, in managers’ lives!  

POST SCRIPTUM N. 1

By the way, this is the fifth of a series of 8 posts that, in my intention and in those of my friends and colleagues Alfonso Pace and Virgilio Gay (they wrote on the same subjects, and you can find their versions, in Italian, at https://medium.com/marketing-mindset) should have – and still should – anticipate the new edition of the now elderly text, currently out of print, reminded in this photo.

POST SCRIPTUM N. 2

If you want to read the end of the story (i.e., my sophisticated three-dimensional model), you will need to wait and skip next week’s article in the Perfectum’s acronym sequence) or be content, for now, with its original Italian version.

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