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Game of Moans

September 11, 2017

The series ‘Game of Thrones’ reveals competition at its most cut-throat. Family is pitched against family in their efforts to gain power, exert influence and protect assets and interests. In spite of all the pressures and demands this imposes, one thing that is notable by its absence is moaning. These arch competitors are not heard complaining about their position or their fortunes. None of them expect someone else to fix their problems. If things aren’t the way they want them to be, they take action.

The business world is also by its nature highly competitive – not just between organizations, but also within organizations. Indeed, it is often the case that internal tensions and politics are more challenging than the competition between businesses. Functions and departments frequently compete for attention, for resources, for power and influence. Complex organizations are driven through contention systems. But unlike the response in Game of Thrones, it sometimes seems that this functional warfare is accompanied by a ‘Game of Moans’.

The Game of Moans is typified by a number of characteristics, for example:

  • Everything would be great if we were given more power
  • Everything would be great if we were given more resource
  • Everything would be great if (function x) had power taken away from it
  • Everything would be great if only the executives understood us and the value we provide

I could carry on the list, but you probably get the gist. The point is that far too often, it is more comfortable to complain and expect others to act than it is to take personal responsibility. In today’s volatile business conditions, that is a high risk approach – status (perhaps even survival) depends on becoming a proactive agent of change.

At times like this, I am always reminded of my conversation with a successful entrepreneur based in Turkey. We all know the turbulent conditions in that country, so it was not unnatural that I would sympathise with him and the challenges he must face in running his businesses. Yet to him, my comments brought only a look of incredulity. “It is at times of uncertainty that opportunities are at their greatest”, he replied.

I guess he is a good candidate for Game of Thrones. Are you?



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