Wednesday, 10 October 2007

No plan survives contact with the enemy

To illustrate risk management issues and their importance to good decisions you need good stories. Gordon Brown has provided us recently with a very clear example of the dangers of not thinking through the consequences by allowing his staff to talk up the possibility of a general election.

The two mistakes he made were to consider only the upside of what was being suggested - that it would damage the Tories, and set the scene for a successful early election - and he forgot von Moltke's maxim "no plan survives contact with the enemy."

In Brown's case his actions united the Tories, flushed out some of their most attractive policies regarding inheritance tax which turned the marginal seats in their favour, and made David Cameron a winner when he had been on a very bad losing streak. It was one of the most spectacular own goals in recent British political life.

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