Since all competitive contests are on-going and past winners continue winning at least for awhile, we have the illusion of control and predictability where they cannot exist. Over time, past winners must fall and new winners arise in unexpected ways. Bear Stearns, the once dominant investment bank, is a great illustration. I am sure the company was on every leftist list of "evil bankers" who control the world. Today, of course, Bear Stearns is no more, bought out for pennies on the dollar
. Who could have predicted this fall? The lesson here is that the illusion of stability and control is dangerous. The front lines of strategy must continually be on the lookout for unexpected changes that Sun Tzu says must reverse the fortunes of all of today's winners. As one of the holders of Enron stock when it went bankrupt, I cannot claim any special power in predicting these failures, but it is important to note that there is nothing criminal about failure, especially of large companies. It happens all the time.