Success is the result of hard work, smarts, good teams, focus, with a hit of “right place, right time” thrown in, etc, etc, right? Right.

At least that is what I always believed, knocked into me by my Dad who believed, and lived by the credo that “the harder  I work, the luckier I get”

Increasingly however, I am seeing success being a relative thing, significantly dependent on a whole host of factors outside our control, many that have perhaps only come into play since the net made our world so bloody complicated, immediate and transparent.

Bill Gates did well, right time and place with an idea that was new, but when he pitched it to IBM, the defining moment of his career, he was not to know that internally IBM had reached some strategic conclusions about how they would approach the emerging world of personal computing.


Ron Jones got fired three weeks ago from JC Penny, where he lasted 17 months after being hired to “Appelise” the aging department store retailer. The retail guru who saved Target, created the retail megastar that is Apple stores, failed to do anything but annoy JC Penny’s existing management who rebelled, and customers who went elsewhere.

Wrong strategy perhaps, but it had certainly worked before, demonstrating again the sensitivity of context, and that success is a fragile, elusive thing, dependent on all sorts of contingencies, making continuous experimentation a “must”.