Home > Bible Lessons, Competitive Intelligence > Sometimes things are not what they seem: Debunking Mythologies!

Sometimes things are not what they seem: Debunking Mythologies!

November 12, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just read an e-mail newsletter from the headmaster of my old school – Rabbi Jeremy Rosen. Rabbi Rosen is not your typical Rabbi, and likes to challenge and get people to think. He encourages questioning at a deep level.

The Old Testament is often seen as a book of vendettas and vengeance – and compared unfavourably to the New Testament. Many of the most interesting stories are not even taught in Sunday schools, so most people – unless they read the bible – are unaware of some of the stories that appear in the bible. For example, Rabbi Rosen mentions how the book of Genesis contains the following:

  • A story about a major character who puts his wife and marriage in danger – with blatant lies about her – in order to save his own skin. This happens not just once but three times;
  • A story about how a lively teenager and his mother are kicked out of the biblical hero’s home into the world with no more than a day’s supplies;
  • A story where the above biblical hero tells his son that they are going on a hiking holiday, when in fact the intention is to kill him;
  • A story about another biblical hero who cheats his father and tells lies – in order to get his hands on the inheritance promised to his older brother;
  • Stories where one child is favoured over another and stories where the hero takes advantage of their siblings;
  • A story where the hero moonlights and takes advantage of his father-in-law’s capital assets;
  • A story where two of the hero’s children go out of control and top the local gang (in revenge for the gang leader molesting their sister);
  • A story where a major character spends the night with a call-girl who he’s picked up off the street and who turns out to be his daughter-in-law.

And this is just Genesis. There are many more stories as graphic as these and more later on in the bible. Yet – this is a source book and holy writ for Christianity and Judaism, and many of the characters and stories are also sacred to Islam and Bahaism. The characters have influenced the way we think about life, society and ethical behaviour.

So what does this all have to do with competitive intelligence. Well – one mistake that people make is to make myths out of information. They get blinded and make assumptions. They read the company histories and believe that what was written about the company history is correct – or mostly correct. But real life is not like this. People make mistakes. Things go wrong. The company founders were never the paragons that are portrayed in later company literature. Part of the role of competitor analysts is to uncover the truth, and to disperse the fog that companies like to put around their origins and history. Because the history is important in that it sets the scene for the present. The culture, strategies and vision are all products of what went before – even if the company refuses to accept this and tries to airbrush the unpleasant bits out of their collective story.

That is part of the genius that is the bible – as the bible does not run away from stories that put its heroes in a bad light. The idea is to show that even biblical heroes got it wrong and that nobody is perfect – and that we should learn from the mistakes made. If only companies did the same, and were as honest: the job of a competitor analyst would be much easier.

PS: I’ve deliberately not identified the above stories. As good information searchers it should not be too difficult to identify each. However as a seasonal competition (no prize – just the honour of getting praise) – see how many you can work out. Post the answers in the comments – or wait, and I’ll respond in a couple of weeks if people ask!

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