Useful Disadvantage

I just left an unplugged session at the World Business Forum with Malcolm Gladwell. About 40 people listened and asked questions.

Gladwell is interested in learning theory, it’s central to his next book. In specific, he’s jazzed about what he calls “compensation learning.” Learning that results from compensating for a weakness. He talked about skills developed from overcoming dyslexia. Disadvantages can be useful.

Malcolm went on to mention that, “Societies with disadvantages compensate in ways that make them more competitive.” If you own a product made in China, you get the point.

Creating useful disadvantage:

I asked Malcolm about the role of leaders as people who create strategic disadvantage.

Gladwell said,

  1. “Be selective.” In other words, choose your disadvantages carefully.
  2. Keep the end in mind. Don’t overwhelm people. “Useful disadvantages strengthen rather than crush.”

“The idea that more resources always lead to better results is a pernicious lie,” Malcolm Gladwell.


What are the implications of creating useful disadvantage?


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