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business philosophy

A loser’s game

We’ve all heard about moving the goalposts. If something isn’t working out the way someone wants, it’s easy to change the goals.

I once worked at a company which was good at moving goalposts. If a sales exec was hitting it out of the park, really blowing his quarterly goals away, the criteria for success would change. Instead of a bigger bonus, they’d take his account away and give it to another department, forcing him to start at the bottom again and go back to the grind, making his numbers. It happened with me, too. When I hit my metrics (a threshold with a direct correlation to my base salary) they changed the definition of the metrics. No bump in salary for me.

That’s how moving goalposts works in the business world. The same concept exists in the rest of the world, too.

Sometimes this idea manifests itself in rules.

If it’s hard to compete, a megacorporation lobbies. Pays off the government. Regulations change, making it harder for small local companies to stay competitive. The industrial megaplex has access to grants, tax benefits, easements, eminent domain, on and on.

Changing the rules in order to win is a loser’s game.

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