October 2; Does This Really Count?
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Ten: Deciding 2 October

…let the wise listen and add to their learning,

and let the discerning get guidance—

Proverbs 1:5

Does This Really Count?

Intelligence

“I need to rest my tired dogs,” as the marching soldiers would say pounding the ground in heavy boots. Vince Lombardi would say that fatigue makes cowards of us all.

But exhaustion merely makes Your Business Professor dull and stupid.

***

It was a Field Training Exercise having something to do with invading Soviets and the Fulda Gap. We (the Good Guys) had not slept in days.

Courtesy  Manuever Marketing

Courtesy
Manuever Marketing

There was a large number of vehicles advancing on our left flank. It was The Threat (as we called the Godless Commies) coming at us through the cover of a thick forest. It was real.

We would learn the next day that it meant nothing.

Justin, like everyone, was dog-tired. He was the officer in charge of our brigade’s information and analysis unit. Every larger Army unit had such a team. Contrary to the popular cultural myth, the men in Military Intelligence were the smartest men in the service. They had the highest IQs.

Much like economists.

And that is a red flag.

***

Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, tells the story in The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise,

An economist is out for a drive on a country road. Unfamiliar with anything outside the big city, he soon gets hopelessly lost. Spotting a lone farmhouse, he pulls over, knocks on the door, and asks the farmer for help. The farmer gives the economist careful directions back to the city.

The economist thanks the farmer and while turning to leave, he notices that the house is flanked by a large field full of sheep. Always on the lookout for a profit making opportunity, the economist poses this wager to the farmer: “I see you have a lot of sheep there, sir. If I can tell you the exact number in ten seconds, will you give me one of them?”

The farmer, amused by the wager, says, “There’s no way you can tell how many sheep I have without counting them. You’re on.”

The economist immediately employs a complex set of analytic heuristic devices, refining his estimates in rapid succession until he reaches his conclusion: “You, sir, have 863 sheep.”

“Why, that is just amazing, “ says the farmer. “That is exactly right!”

Being a man of his word, the farmer invites the economist to pick out any sheep he wants. The economist does so and walks back to his car with the animal in his arms. But before he departs the farmer stops him.

“You know, I have a wager of my own. If I can tell you your profession, can I have my sheep back?”

The economist, amused, responds, “There’s no way you could know my profession, given that we’ve only just met. You’re on.”

The farmer says, “You, sir, are an economist.”

“Why, that is just amazing,” says the economist. “How on earth did you know that?”

“Simple,” says the farmer. “You got all the numbers right, but you’re walking off with my dog.”

***

Justin (not his real name) counted and analyzed and had persuaded the commander that the attack was coming at us from our left. Maybe he would have made another recommendation with some sleep or more thinking. Maybe we had the wrong kind of smarts. In any event, we had failed to do our best. “Dogged it,” as the senior commander said later.

At the time, however, the boss took our advice and decided to move resources to counter the enemy’s move.

This was a mistake. The real attack came from another direction. The numbers, the motion, the enemy activity was a feign. The numbers were right but irrelevant. Our adversary was moving all of his support vehicles under the wooded canopy. High volume, but irrelevant.

We took the bait. The enemy tanks, the number that counted, came at us from an unprotected direction. We lost. We did the numbers right; but we were outsmarted.

We were naive. Like the economist.

The next time we would be a bit wiser, ask for more advice, get more rest and question the source of the numbers.

…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— Proverbs 1:5

###

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