The importance of trade-offs and compromises

I recently entered into a competition to win a signed business book via the ‘Online MBA‘ (nine different books were included, including Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” and Daniel Pink’s “Drive“). Most of the entry requirements were limited to administrative contact details, with the competition seemingly hanging on one key question: “What is the most important thing you have learned about business?” (* see also my footnote regarding the competition)

Of course, there is no ‘right’ answer to this question; indeed, there are almost certainly many, many very good answers.

Below I set out what I submitted as my thoughts on this:

Essentially everything comes down to trade-offs and compromise, both on a personal level and on enterprise level. How you recognize, and then manage those trade-offs and compromises will determine your success in each of the areas of your life that are important to you. The first step to success is therefore to learn to recognize the trade-offs and compromises.

This is the answer that first came to my head, and while I think the matter of ‘trade-offs and compromises‘ is very important, one could point to other matters which might be equally important, or more so. In any case, I think there is some value in considering this topic further, and so have decided to use this post to further develop my thoughts on the brief submission above.

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Should MBA programs share blame for the adverse economic development?

[or looking at it differently, can future MBA programs protect us from the economic turmoil that we are now suffering?]


The majority of my MBA was undertaken during booming economic times, however with a constant uncertainty hanging over our heads at that time: “What do global trade imbalances mean?”.

Now, in the midst of a global economic crisis numerous commentators are asking the question “Did MBA programs develop greedy managers, who put growth ahead of stability?”, or variants on this theme.  Global trade imbalances still exist (with no clearer insight into how these will be resolved), but discussion of these seems to be parked while we work our way out of the recession.

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