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Creativity and Fighting Out of Formation, Redux

Last September, I wrote "Fighting Out of Formation – a Metaphor for Creativity."

If you look at George Washington or Napoleon Bonaparte, their forces knew how to fight out of formation. That’s why they were able to win important battles against larger, more well-equipped forces. They stirred up a bunch of chaos because their forces were able to handle chaos better than the enemy.

I think if you want to do creative endeavors like writing, painting, whatever – you need to learn to fight out of formation. By that, I mean you need to learn how to do it without having “formal expert tone” or being highly polished. Ideally, you can communicate well without necessarily obeying grammar and punctuation. After all, the point of writing is to communicate – the language is supposed to serve you, you’re not supposed to serve it.

It takes a lot longer to get into formation if you’re out of it than to just fight slightly wild and crazy. Of course, you should learn discipline and how to fight in formation, and should be able to do well in that role. It might even be your bread and butter. But if you’re editing every memo you send, every blog post you write, every rallying talk or speech you give – then you’re burning a lot of time.

This is something I've tried to adopt for myself, but it goes against my nature. By nature, I'm a perfectionist. My natural tendency is to work and re-work and re-work and re-work something ad infinitum.

Modeling Combat Reserves As Liquidity

I study a lot of history, and a moderate amount of finance.

An observation I made some time back -- it seems like most military conflicts post-gunpowder are won or lost far more by logistics and supply than individual combat ability. Gunpowder is what put an end to Parthian/Hunnish/Mongol-type mobile mounted archery warfare. There hasn't been any "we don't need logistics" type of wars since then, assuming both sides has at least some semblance of military discipline, cohesion, and leadership.

Even blitzkreig -- the archetypical fast strike -- doesn't work without lots of gasoline, jeeps, ammunition, and railroads. And if you run out of gas -- literally -- you lose. See: 1941, Operation Barbarossa, Stalingrad and Moscow.

But what if you've got an overwhelming economical and logistical advantage, like the Union had over the Confederacy? Or what Imperial Britain had after Napoleon's defeat over, well, the whole world?

This is where a model looking at liquidity is somewhat interesting.

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