At the North Carolina Technology Association, Bob Young, the speaker and old friend, tricked us a shift from talking about his tech companies, Red Hat and Lulu, to his Canadian Football team, the Hamilton Tiger Cats. It may shock you to know that running a football team, Canadian or American, is quite different from running a tech company. Okay, you realized that. But how is it different?

According to Bob, tech is largely undefined and changing. What was a wise choice yesterday isn’t such a winner today. Every day there is a new set of rules. This is an area where originality rather than mastery is the more important. The facile original will take the day so you need to be careful to build a team of folks that are young and original or at least act young and are original to be a success. Independence in act and in thought is highly valued.

But in football, at least in Canadian as described by Bob, the rules haven’t changed in over 100 years. The plays are well known and tried and true. And they are not likely to change very much. In this case there is little room for originality. You need to be able instead to execute with the least possible flaws. Mastery is far more important than originality.

I wonder if this is only part of the insight that can be had into the two cultures. A broader vision might be like Jane Jacobs‘ two Moral Syndromes — Guardian and Commercial — in Systems of Survival.

Note the terms, mastery and originality, are from Roger Martin’s Opposable Mind and not directly from Bob’s talk.

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