Business models: opportunistic vs. fixed-goal

Intriguing book review today in the Wall Street Journal by William Easterly. He discusses William Duggan‘s new book, Strategic Intuition, which argues that the business school model of building leaders by having them focus on fixed goals has the wrong end of the stick. Instead, he argues that most innovations occur through having the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

Easterly also notes that Duggan compares this opportunistic business model to governments’ fixed-goal approach:

One of the insights of “Strategic Intuition” is that business makes progress by following the opportunistic innovation model, while governments and international-aid agencies aim repetitively at rigid social goals. Such rigidity happens partly for a reason that Mr. Duggan is too polite to mention — bureaucrats, by nature, rarely give off a creative spark. Mr. Duggan prefers to emphasize a structural cause: The public demands solutions to problems of great social importance; thus bureaucrats get stuck with fixed objectives. Yet Mr. Duggan also shows that social progress often happens by emulating the opportunism of business. Among the most powerful of his examples is Muhammad Yunus’s invention of microcredit.

Makes you want to read the book.