Preparing for War

"... grasp the big lesson of history:
If you do not prepare for war you shall not have peace."

A subeditor's preferred take on historian Niall Ferguson's view of the current warmongering climate around the world. The man himself first used this prose;

One of history's oldest maxims is Roman: Si vis pacem, para bellum — if you want peace, prepare for war.

Idle-time doomscrolling soon leads down the 'WWIII is imminent' rabbit hole.

From gangsters with nuclear sabres, through religious fundamentalists to the most corrupt, suffocating or authoritarian regimes in the name of 'the people', has there ever been a time of such number of baddies?

Motivated by nothing more than to thieve the wealth and possessions of others whilst hovering their jackboot above them at all times rather than let them flourish and co-operate for common and individual good as they desire?

When you take a moment, it feels absurd. Then you read the Voltaire attribution; "whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities".

As a method of control it's right up there. The Professor Ferguson quote above is a bit gloomy for me, as a rule. Yet I totally see how the negative amplification can spur someone more than the positive alternative.

As proven by copywriter straplines in general, the rise of ꜰᴏᴍᴏ as a driver, and even the longstanding Sales push along ꜰᴜᴅ (selling on Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt, attributed to ɪʙᴍ salesteams of the mid- to late-20th Century).

Bearing in mind both the yin and the yang remain important for me.

Preferring the zeal of fixating on a problem you uniquely fix, whilst refining the process that allows you to do so in a repeatable sustainable successful way.

Otherwise many traps await. From falling into Orwellian 'capture', denial of truly beneficial purpose and distraction blunting performance.

There's also the cliché that maybe it's always better to stand For, rather than Against, something. That'd make for a swirling first-year philosophy undergrad essay, hey; Discuss...

Which brought my mind to the last R&D rate I noted.

Figures for the UK economy as a whole from 2021 suggested around £66bn was spent on RnD. Roughly 3 percent of total ɢᴅᴘ. Of which, government grants and the like accounted for £14bn. Potentially leaving the private sector contribution at £52bn, or in the region of two-and-a-bit percent.

When at b-school myself all those decades ago, best practice RnD spend, by the array of 'innovation' literature then on offer, was promoted as being never lower than ten percent of revenue.

Indeed, a budget line for next year's P&L we students were implored to introduce was that very amount.

And when delved deeper, this was very much sector independent. The prevailing wisdom being that it matters not what enterprise you run, that 10% figure ought be immutable.

Many examples flowed - designed to expand the discipline's reach perhaps? - that you wouldn't necessarily think of beyond the traditional labs of manufacturers.

Fresh licks of paint for shops, menu experimentation of cafes, and that perennial of training for sales staff.

On that last point, shortly after graduating, I encountered a multinational training agency who as part of their session (always the whole day back then) deliberately talked about the average annual training in the profession languishing then at a scarcely, yet utterly believable 1½ days.

Although those struck me as more Maintenance activities, that's also a criminally undervalued area. And there can undoubtedly be crossover with R&D. Think of the intersection refining your sales process has with developing new ways of selling and keeping methods working nicely going, for instance.

Anyway, you can always hive off 'pure' new and improved product or service endeavours.

General rates though do feel worryingly low. Surely sub 10pc?

So what is your sales effort's Research and Development budget?

And where does it go?

What must you not fail to prepare for?

What might threaten your 'peace', aka, 'prosperity'?

Are you letting the absurd take over?

How are you trying to make sure you won't go backwards?

And prepare for that 'war' which a competitor, whether not yet emerged or long-time battle hardened, wants to wage on your turf?

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