Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ten Ancient Mistakes VIII

Continuing our selections of ten ancient mistakes (based on this article):

#8 No vision --- No Strategy

In order to make progress, one must have a clear and communicable vision of where one wants to go and persuade others that this vision is desirable.

An example of someone without a vision is perhaps Ibbi-Sin. Ibbi-Sin inherited the Neo-Sumerian empire, at the time, the largest in the world. Faced with an Amorite invasion, Ibbi-Sin seems to have made no plans. As a result, he watched his empire slowly dwindle and vanish with him. His subordinate, Ishbi-Erra, while praising him to the skies---he was the beloved of the gods from the womb, and the king without rival---notes that he cannot get anything done, not even get the grain threshed. Another subordinate, Puzur-Numushda, notes that the strategic losses that Ibbi-Sin suffered were entirely predictable, but Ibbi-Sin appears to have done nothing about them other than get mad at his subordinates.

Sometimes, the problem is not having a vision but the ability to communicate that vision and persuade others that it is a good thing. Akhenaten wanted to take Egyptian society in a new direction where it had never gone before. While he had a clear vision where he wanted to go but was unable to sell that vision to anyone else. This is one of the reasons that his revolution is mainly a fifteen year blip in Egyptian history. If his vision of a remade Egyptian society was desirable to him, no one else wanted it. The Egyptians rejected his vision and systematically destroyed all traces of it that they could find.