Dilbert - Luck


Today is supposed to be unlucky.

One of my other blogs, the smallest and most whimsical, is “70-20-10”. It stemmed from reflections on the “pareto optimal” concept, often known colloquially as the “80-20” rule. I thought that there were lots of diverse applications of pareto optimal, but I thought a more accurate model was “70-20-10” Over the years, I have identified and stumbled across a number of disciplines where this model applied. And recent reflections on ‘success’ and ‘failure’ has brought it to the fore again.

In short, I kept coming back to 3 major components of most any significant success.

  1. Hard Work
  2. Creativity/Insight
  3. Luck

Malcolm Gladwell has popularised foremost with the ’10,000 Hour’ mystique which has been alternately reinforced and debunked. I think that the contrarians have a point. That it’s not JUST the 10k hours that makes the difference. There are plenty of counterfactuals around of people who have put in well over that threshold and are nowhere near world class. As well as plenty who have put in much less and yet find themselves at the top of their game.

The question is which is the “70”, the “20” and the “10”. I actually think that depends. It depends on the context. In “anti-fragile” situations, much of the volatility is engineered out giving “Hard Work” a much stronger role. Whereas in “Fragile” situations, “Luck” is a much bigger role. In “Fooled by Randomness”, Taleb seems to ascribe a “70%” majority share to basic “Luck” for professions as revered as trading. The important point is for people (especially Leaders and Managers who are responsible for the role of “Luck”) is to be cognizant of these ingredients and to consider how much each plays in every decision or initiative they undertake. All too many people will tend to ascribe their successes to the first two and their failures to the lattermost.

Good luck.