Double or something

Sep 01 2005 by René Da Costa Print This Article

His eyes betrayed nothing; only the faintest sheen on his brow gave any hint of nerves tingling within. His opponent cascaded her cards with a confident smile and breathed… full house.

I looked to his eyes to see the first echoes of desperation. He said, with all the bravado he could muster, 'double or nothing?' Everyone knew it was a loser's gambit.

Are you the kind of manager who always has a well-developed plan? One who diligently does his or her research? You know what you want to achieve and you have developed that single-minded, clear strategy to get there? Don't collect your winnings just yet.

Developing an odds-on strategy that repays the business repeatedly requires a little more thought, but guarantees you will never be on the losing side again. A new way of doing business where you just can't help but win something, even if it wasn't quite what you intended.

Whatever business actions you have planned try to consider beyond a one-dimensional point A to point B strategy. Whilst you might feel confident where point A is, and even that is open to question, point B is only ever an imagined destination.

A double or nothing strategy is very poor decision-making and even poorer planning
I don't care how well-realised it is in your mind or anyone else's for that matter, you cannot guarantee that you will ever get there.

That makes it a double or nothing strategy which is very poor decision-making and even poorer planning. You have bet the business and your reputation on a race without being sure where the course ends. What happens if the horse pulls up lame or is nicknamed Mr. Gluepot? Its catchy name won't be enough to stop you coming unstuck.

How to always end up with a winning ticket?

Employ 'Quinella+.' A Quinella is a betting system where you must predict the first two finishers in a horse race, in either order, to win. I add the plus because I advocate backing several horses to increase your winning odds.

Start all business planning exercises with a Quinella+ phase. Ask yourselves, what are the possible outcomes of this project both good and bad? How can we achieve something valuable from potentially bad outcomes and how can we leverage that something extra out of the good outcomes?

Imagine yourself tasked to sell product X to a new client. You might develop a presentation about all the amazing benefits of product X. That only yields a harvest if they like or need product X.

If your one criterion for success is their buying product X and they choose not to, you have failed with all the emotional, political and social consequences incumbent on all concerned.

Using the Quinella+ system you will have developed a strategy to provide successes on many levels.

Let's imagine a horse race. Horse 1's money is on a product X sale. Horse 2 is running to provide research for the next sale. If Horse 3 wins she prepares the way for buying Product X+ and lastly Horse 4 is carrying your own money to deliver feedback on your presentation style.

Each stakeholder will understand how the bet is spread, who benefits and how. Post race analysis starts immediately. Elect yourself as 'trainer' and take responsibility to ensure that everyone collects his or her winnings. For example if our 'research opportunity' Horse romps home leaving 'product X sale' it its wake, then run a workshop that ensures colleagues learn from your experience.

Can you see how failing to bring home the favourite provides unexpected dividends with Quinella+? How much will your stock rise after your workshop? Will people be talking about failure or success? Will you be looking at downcast accusatory faces or ones optimistic and motivated about the future?

Until you become adept at Quinella+ it might require a little more effort, a little more commitment. But think of all those horses crossing the line with you as the jockey? Isn't that worth a little extra hay?

About The Author

René Da Costa
René Da Costa

René Da Costa is an author and consultant.