Is Yahoo Playing Not to Lose?
“What caught my attention [about Mattis’ rant],” says Whitley, “was
the all-too-familiar telltale signs of an organization that had lost
He then breaks it down, offering some real-life data and some poignant commentary:
According to a study by Royal Dutch/Shell, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company, from birth to death, was 40-50 years. Somewhere along the way, most likely unnoticeable by many, successful companies lose their innovation and passion which they were founded upon. During that period a well intentioned bureaucracy forms and soon the game is no longer played to win, but played not to lose. Before you know it, you’re a boiled frog floating upside down in some very hot water…
…Establishing true core values, not slogans, is an important element in the creation of a culture of long-term success. Values like integrity, passion, creativity, diligence, hard work, and excellence. Values which demand that every employee be a leader; values which even champion the need for failure.
Michael’s blog laments his former employer which he perceives as playing not to lose rather than to win. There is a good lesson here for all of us. Companies that don’t play to win sacrifice the important teachings that come with losing. Losing shows us how to win and keeps us strong and hungry. If we’re open-minded enough, it mercilessly points out our mistakes and weaknesses and, as a result, it teaches us how to win. Viewed with the right perspective, losing isn’t failure and nor is it likely fatal — viewed from the other perspective, playing not to lose is most assuredly terminal.
I couldn’t have said it better myself (obviously). I wonder if there’s a Harvard MBA class called “Mojo Studies?” If not, Whitley should consider teaching one.