The Anna Karenina Principle of Business
The Anna Karenina principle was popularized by Jared Diamond. It comes from a line in the book Anna Karenina.
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own unique way."
This principle states that evolutionary success doesn't occur because of some particular positive trait, it is instead the absence of any serious negative traits that leads a species to thrive. If you were to apply this idea to business, it means a deficiency in any one core element will doom a company to extinction. However, a successful company somehow avoids each and every one of these potential failures as it grows and thrives.
The bigger question then becomes, what are the core traits that lead to business failure? In the case of domesticated animals, these traits are easy to identify (dietary needs, captive breeding, disposition, panic tendency, and social structure).
I propose the following, sure to be incomplete, list of positive traits required for a sustainable business:
- Ability To Identify A Competitive Niche
- Flexibility In Adopting Internal & External Innovation
- Capability To Repeatedly Identify & Recruit Talent At Market Value
- Ability To Sustain Periods of Frugality
- Commitment To Organizational Learning
So what do you think? Did I leave anything off the list?