Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "Do nothing" strategy explained

I recently became very surprised to realize that something as powerful as the "do nothing" strategy has not yet earned a place of itself in a a popular encyclopedia like Wikipedia.
Moreover, typing a simple Google search "do nothing" doesn't reveal any valuable example of this way of acting.

As a fervent admirer and a convinced practitionner of "do nothing", I decided to expose at least two good examples that could help my readers acquiring better understanding of how to "do nothing" and ultimately guide them towards a higher and healthier level of wisdom.

In business management or survival techniques, we have the following (fictious) example:

You are flying an airplane, over a remote region of Canada, together with other passengers. Due to an engine problem, you are obliged to a forced landing, in the middle of nowhere, in a cold area, surrounded by snow, lakes, swamps and 200 km's away from any potential human settlement.
The question is: what do you do next, knowing that you are left with several objects such as: a compass, 2 sleeping bags, that much food, a torch, etc. ?

After duely assessing the situation, the good answer to the question is that you should "do nothing" else than sit down on your ass, and wait for rescues, as there are more chances to get saved by others than to save yourself by willing to do something smart, when you stand absolutely no chance. On the contrary, in such cases you are more likely to perish in this unfriendly environment.

The second example is another famous one, taken from the military:

During his campaign in Gaul, Julius Cesar with his 50.000 troops managed to surround and besiege the fortress of Alesia, where 80.000 men were garnisoned.
About 3 to 4 weeks later, not being able to push Alesia into capitulation, the Roman army got encircled itself, by some 250.000 Gauls coming as a relief force.
In such a precarious situation, many would have attempted to break through, either towards the fortress or outwards, through the gross of the Gallic army.
Well, Caesar didn't do any of that, he simply "did nothing", until the "outside" Gallic army, desperate to free-up their fellows from the fortress, launched several suicidal attacks on the Roman positions.

There are many other good examples, worth being mentionned, of the DO NOTHING strategy but I leave it to my readers to find them by themselves.

Meaning of the story: the DO NOTHING strategy is to be applied whenever the complexity of the environment or the situation is such that no predictable outcome can be foreseen. It is also applicable whenever your "oponent" or oposing force (be it a person, a situation or a state of facts) is likely to act towards its self-consumption or self-destruction.
In the worst of the cases, you will have preserved your energy and ressources, to be able to survive and act in a better way during the further developments.


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