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10 things Niccolò Machiavelli can Teach you about Creative Strategy

Niccolò Machiavelli was born in Florence on May the 3rd 1469. He was a persona of the Italian Renaissance and deeply involved in politics. He was an Italian diplomat, political philosopher, and author.

1. “A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.”

You can’t break consistency because that would break people’s trust in you. You need to find your commitment, your position, and then stick to it, so that people know that whenever they want a certain value, they can get it from you without disappointment.

2. “Before all else, be armed.”

You have to have know your strengths, your weaknesses and have your skills intact before attempting to "attack" a market. If you fail to plan ahead of your actions, you will very likely fail with the actions as well.

3. “I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”

You can’t copy, copy and copy, to be a creator, leader, that people feel they can trust, nor admire. If what you have to offer already exists, then why should anyone come to you. Think of it as a New Game, you need to give new value, new rules in a new approach. If not, it’s very unlikely that you’ll achieve any great results. Don’t be afraid of breaking patterns and disrupting the perception of the market. The easiest way of leading a new market is by inventing it. This means that you already must have done your research well on the markets that today exist.

4. “The end justifies the means.”

Be result-focused rather than just busy. The market is very honest, and if what you have isn’t desired, then your efforts will not matter. Nobody can see that you worked so hard that you almost are in the verge of collapsing, most of the time nobody cares if you even did collapse. :)

You need to offer people benefits that help their lives; it’s all about the results, nothing about you (no matter how wonderful you believe your work is). Great results, will lead to fortune. And great results demands creativity.

5. “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”

You tried and you failed, so of course you get frustrated. But, instead of arguing that the users have no idea of what they really want, dare to see the failure as an immense opportunity to actual winning. Failure means just one step closer to winning. It shows you what you have done wrong and what you can improve. Seeing opportunity is in your perception, if you look at obstacles as unmovable stones then you are missing the point. Those few that understand that difficulties, problems and failure are actually opportunities will become winners. Why? because if it is difficult then there is a competitive advantage in realizing or solving the issue. A big problem = great opportunity, don’t let it slip.

6. “Never was anything great achieved without danger”

Take calculated risks, as mentioned above, you need not fear failure. The faster you fail the better. Why? Because if you over plan so you don't fail than you will eventually fail and the time planning will be wasted on being dependent on some abstract certainty. Planning has its place, but its not meant to be certain.

If you refuse to fail, you will play the game of business very safely and this will give competitors a great chance to take home the trophy. Dare to try out new ideas, and if they don’t work, go on to other ideas. Have speed of action; don’t wait for magic to happen, be the magician and swallow the fire.

7. “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

Keep track of your competitors and keep track of the market, what happens today might completely change tomorrow. Know the principles of strategy; you need to constantly improve yourself (Kaizen). Your business should be in constant morphing until you hit the target. It is a process of business discovery not an instant gratification.

8. “Where the willingness is great the difficulties cannot be great”

What's your passion? Work only with what you believe in. If you choose a market that has completely different values than you do, then working hard for it will almost become impossible.

Know what you want. Have a vision that shows what your result is. Without determining what you want and more importantly why you are sweating blood, your motivation will die.

9. There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.

Battles in the market, and the best strategies will always exist. It's you who decide if you want to join or not. You can either win or let people defeat you.

Other designers demand market shares, and you must accept that you are being studied, probably copied, and if you don't plan how to present your work, ideas and projects with right timing, then you just might miss your shot of glory, and your competitors will take that to their advantage.

10. "To understand the nature of the people one must be a prince, and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people."

See problems and solutions from different perceptions. Understand your user's situation, and why people act the way they do.

In short, look outside your own perception.

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  1. ramchandra says:

    i m very much impressed by Machiavelli tactics. it's very surprise he had identify human pyschology so throughly at that time which r exists in today's most advance world. thanks and regards, ramchandra

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