Karmona's Pragmatic Blog

Don't get overconfident… Tiny minds also think alike

Karmona's Pragmatic Blog

You Yong Wu Mou (“Having Courage but No Strategies”)

October 20th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 3 Comments

I have just finished reading a very interesting book (!!!) “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely and came across a very interesting historic story.

“In 210 BC, a Chinese commander named Xiang Yu led his troops across the Yangtze River to attack the army of the Qin (Ch’in) dynasty. Pausing on the banks of the river for the night, his troops awakened in the morning to find to their horror that their ships were burning. They hurried to their feet to fight off their attackers, but soon discovered that it was Xiang Yu himself who had set their ships on fire, and that he had also ordered all cooking pots crushed.”

“Xiang Yu explained to his troops that without the pots and the ships, they had no other choice but to fight their way to victory or perish. That did not earn Xiang Yu a place on the Chinese army’s list of favorite commanders, but it did have a tremendous focusing effect on his troops (as they grabbed) their lances and bows, they charged ferociously against the enemy and won nine consecutive battles, completely obliterating the main-force units of the Qin dynasty”

Prof. Ariely is making a point about the advantage of making a choice to focus by closing other doors/options/opportunities.

Joshua Baer had an interesting allegory to the startup world in his “Necessity is the mother of Invention” post

“This is similar to when a bootstrapper enters the Valley of Death* and commits to their venture, but before they are making money and cash flow positive. They are forced to figure out how to make it work with what they’ve got. The timeline is not completely in their control.


We’re always tempted to leave ourselves an escape route or path of retreat. And usually that’s a good idea. But sometimes there aren’t enough resources to mount the attack and cover the retreat. In order to be successful sometimes you have to commit the resources to what you believe in because the retreat option isn’t acceptable. Sometimes once you head down a path there is just no turning back, so you might as well commit all of your resources to getting to the end”

Well… this is true but since I am a notorious pessimist and usually like my options open, I have continued reading about this fine gentlemen (a.k.a. Xiang Yu)

I learned that indeed in the beginning of the civil war Xiang Yu was winning but with his rude manners, arrogance and lack of political vision, the tide turned against Xiang Yu and in the end he lost the war to Liu Bang.

In 202 BC, when Xiang Yu and his remaining men had their backs against the river while surrounded by Liu Bang’s troops, a boatman on a raft persuaded Xiang Yu to go with him across the river so he can prepare a comeback.
Xiang Yu said, “When I crossed the River and went west, I took with me 8,000 sons and brothers from east of the Yangtze. Now none of them has returned; how can I face the elders east of the Yangtze?” After declining this offer, Xiang Yu turned around, charged against the Han troops, killed over a hundred men, and finally cut his own throat.
Shortly after his death Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty.

Three concluding facts about Xiang Yu:

  • Xiang is popularly viewed as a leader who possesses great courage but lacks wisdom, and his character is aptly summarized using the Chinese idiom “Yǒu Yǒng Wú Móu” (有勇無謀) – “Having Courage but No Strategies” (or  to be foolhardy or to be more brave than wise or to have reckless courage…)
  • Xiang’s battle tactics were studied by future military leaders while his political blunders served as cautionary tales for future rulers
  • Xiang Yu is also the kind general that raided the Terracotta** tomb less than five years after the death of the First Emperor – Xiang’s army was looting of the tomb and structures holding the Terracotta Army, as well as setting fire to the necropolis and starting a blaze that lasted for three months.

“Yǒu Yǒng Wú Móu” (有勇無謀) – “Having Courage but No Strategies” – Think about it…! ;)

* Valley of Death – A slang phrase to refer to the period of time from when a startup receives an initial capital contribution to when it begins generating revenues.
During the death valley curve, additional financing is usually scarce, leaving the firm vulnerable to cash flow requirements.

** The Terracotta Army or the “Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses“, is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China
The figures, dating from 210 BC, vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.
Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.
There is also a legend that the terracotta warriors were real soldiers, buried with Emperor Qin so that they could defend him from any dangers in the next life.

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p.s. Prof. Ariely also recommends another role model for door closing – Rhett Butler for his supreme moment of unpredictable rationality with his astonishing elan, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”

→ 3 CommentsTags: Conspiracy · Leadership · People · Psychology · Strategy

Random Rumbling on Technology Triggers

August 10th, 2009 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

Monopoly Go to Jail“In the future everything will be augmented reality!”

I might be getting a little too old, visionless, pragmatic or pessimistic for this but I find it very hard to travel to the promised lala land, Gartner’s calls “peak of inflated expectations”.

When I encounter a new “Technology Triggers”, I skip right to the “Trough of Disillusionment” without really passing through the promising “peak”…

e.g. Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies | Gartner, 2009 – Am I missing something here?

Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies | Gartner, 2009

p.s. I do think Technology Triggers are very good for SEO and I will update you if it will work… ;)

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Human Augmentation, 3D Flat Panel Displays, Quantum Computing, Context Delivery Architecture, Video Search, Behavioral Economics, Mobile Robots, Surface Computers, Augmented Re4ality, 3D Printing, Internet TV, Wireless Power, Cloud computing, E-Book Readers, Social Software Suites, Micorblogging, Green IT, Video Telepresence, Mesh Networks, Online Video, Home Health Monitoring, Public Virtual Worlds, RFID, Social Network Analysis, Web 2.0, Idea Management, Tablet PC, Wikis, Corporate Blogging, SOA, Location Aware Applications, Speech Recognition etc.

→ No CommentsTags: Conspiracy · Disruptive Technology

Disable Google SearchWiki

June 14th, 2009 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

The Elephant in the Room | BanksyFashionably late*, Google Search’s global preferences page now includes the option to disable the SearchWiki “horror”…

Simply click on the checkbox next to SearchWiki and you will “Hide the ability to share, promote, remove, comment, or add your own results”

All good now :)


* Friendly reminder: Marissa Mayer promised that Google Search Wiki would soon have a toggle button that allow people to turn it off (“early Q1.”/2009)

→ No CommentsTags: Conspiracy · Google · Search

Brave New World of Facebook User Names

June 14th, 2009 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 2 Comments

Columbus taking possession of the New WorldSurprise Surprise… My new facebook username / vanity URL is http://www.facebook.com/karmona

Go and get yours before someone else will @ http://www.facebook.com/username/although it is probably too late ;)

Good Luck!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Conspiracy · Internet · Social Network

Head in the Clouds

January 29th, 2009 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 2 Comments

La Condition Humaine | Rene Magritte, 1933It seems like everywhere I go these days, people are talking about cloud computing… Would it be accurate to say that almost everyone are “fairly optimistic” regarding Cloud Computing?

For your convenient, I have collected few cloud-buzz-quotes to  spice your cloud computing elevator pitch:

  • According to Gartner: “Cloud computing heralds an evolution of business that is no less influential than e-business”
  • IDC on Cloud Computing: “This is about the IT industry’s new model for the next 20 years“, Vernon Turner, head of enterprise infrastructure, consumer and telecoms research.

Cloud Computing The Latest Evolution of Hosting | Forrester Research

  • Merrill Lynch estimates that by 2012, the annual global market for cloud computing will surge to $95 billion and that 12% of the worldwide software market would go to the cloud in that period.
  • In January of 2008 Amazon announced that the Amazon Web Services now consume more bandwidth than do the entire global network of Amazon.com retail sites

Amazon Web Services Bandwidth

  • “… the new computing cloud age” Eric Schmidt (April, 2008)

Do you happen to have more???

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cloud · Conspiracy · Disruptive Technology