If the underdog never won, we’d have a very dull and predictable world. Fortunately, for a variety of reasons, the underdog who fights harder, thinks smarter, and maybe sometimes—but only sometimes—has a bit of luck, manages to beat the favorite. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath, tells the story of a few Davids who had the audacity to take on Goliath and win. The first underdog story Gladwell depicts is of Vivek Ranadivé, the CEO of TIBCO. In case you missed it, Anderson Cooper profiled the story on 60 Minutes this past year in an interview with both Gladwell and Ranadivé.
In Basketball, Skills Aren’t Everything
A few years back, Ranadivé was asked to coach his 12-year-old daughter’s basketball team, even though he knew nothing of the game. He’d never played it and hadn’t actually touched a basketball before. By his own estimates, the team he took responsibility for wasn’t tall, only a couple of girls could dribble, and none could shoot very well. The odds of success were stacked against them as they faced teams that were taller, more skilled, and coached by students of the game.
By studying how the game is typically played, Ranadivé realized that the full-court press, something often used by teams only at the end of the game to kill the clock, was the answer. He taught his team to play “maniacal defense” that often kept the other team from inbounding the ball. They made it to the state championship after winning every regular season game.
Challenging the Status Quo
Technology offers the same opportunity for David and Goliath stories. As new software and hardware continually enter the market, companies of all sizes are offered an opportunity to upset the status quo and its Goliath-sized players. The only difference between those who challenge and those who defend against disruption is the audacity to think big. This David versus Goliath story has an interesting footnote as Ranadivé went on to buy the Sacramento Kings early last year. What started as a personal challenge has become a business passion.
Malcolm Gladwell and Vivek Ranadivé will both be speaking at TIBCO NOW, so be sure to catch all the action and register today!