Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lynch's Rule

"Go for a business that any idiot can run - because sooner or later, any idiot probably is going to run it." - Peter Lynch, investment advisor

Peter Lynch's advice came to mind the other day when I was reviewing a manager's hopelessly complicated strategy for turning around an operation. The strategy was the equivalent of reciting The Lord's Prayer backwards while hopping on one foot and solving mathematical equations.

In other words, it was doomed.

Left unchecked, we veer toward the complex, the ad hoc, and the irrational. Simplicity requires enormous planning but simple systems pay off enormously in the rough and tumble of events.

The complexity of some systems is not revealed until the responsibilities are assumed by a less competent individual.


Wally Bock said...

Wonderful post, Michael. I'd expect no less from someone who's read On the Border with Crook.

We strain for complexity because our schooling tells us that smart people do complex things. But the brilliant are usually the ones who can make things simple without making them wrong. I think that the measure of Richard Feynman's genius was not as much his Nobel Prize as his still-reprinted physics lectures.

Michael Wade said...


I could not agree more.

By the way, I recently started reading "The Fox and the Whirlwind" by Peter Aleshire. It's a paired biography of General Crook and Geronimo. So far, it's quite good but it is hard to get into the same league as "On the Border with Crook" unless you lived at that time.