New York Times Bestseller, Malcolm Gladwell, adds a fifth book to his list of works with, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants. In typical Gladwell form, his novel explores the psychological, sociological, and economical factors that coalesce together, explaining how underdogs sometimes finish first.
For examples Gladwell examines how someone with dyslexia can become a world class attorney despite difficulties reading efficiently or how a basketball team, with little talent and a coach with no prior basketball knowledge, were able to win their league. Stories like these filled with casts of colorful characters line David and Goliath, giving Gladwell his unique and flowing style that is all his own.
However, as idiosyncratic as his work is, David and Goliath commonly dives in the deep by provoking hair raising theories with very little substantial support. Specifically, Gladwell’s theory of “Desirable Difficulty,” which pokes at the idea that being dyslexic, losing a parent, or living in London during the WWII bombings are considered desirable difficulties. He claims that when people are placed in difficult circumstances, it provides them the opportunity to fight like they have nothing to lose. Supporting the ole’ adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Gladwell uses examples to examine this philosophy. Specifically, the story of “talentless” basketball team with their neophyte coach, Vivek Ranadive. Before their season, Vivek and his assistant recognized that his daughters youth basketball team possessed little talent compared to their competitors. Vivek wondered how he could take this group of underdogs and transform them into winners. So, Vivek began exploring his options. He discerned that if they could master their defense, specifically the full court press, and wear down the stamina of his opponents his team had a chance to be competitive. With nothing to lose, Vivek implemented his strategy, which ended up working . To garner success with his team of underdogs, Vinek had to play the game like he had nothing to lose and in the end his strategy paid off.
Stories like this are rampant among businesses’ beginnings. Take a look at a company like Zappos. From Zappos’ inception they believed that the consumer would purchase shoes off the internet. By thinking outside the box and trying something completely new in an already established and competitive market, Zappos was able to succeed against the Goliaths of the time to become a billion dollar company(with an amazing culture to boot)
For anything to remain successful in this world it must be willing to adapt, including businesses. Organizations, just like animals and people, must be willing to adapt, innovate, and learn to remain dominant. There are major lessons in David and Goliath that every individual and organization should learn such as: Continue reading