THE STRATEGY OF IMPORTING
If you can’t beat them, buy them.
The essential idea behind The Strategy of Importing is to turn your ‘enemy’ into your ally. No matter how peace loving a person you might be, you’ll have an enemy somewhere. The trick here is to identify that enemy and make them a willing part of your world. Check out these examples:
- Professional sports teams often buy their competitor’s star player in order to get him or her to play for their own team.
- The Dutch Ministry of Finance was humiliated after their top-secret Annual Budget was somehow leaked to the Dutch television broadcaster RTL News in 2004. As a result, the bureaucrats tried to plug the leak by increasing security and implementing rules. The next year, in 2005, RTL News got their hands on the budget once again. In a daring move, the Ministry took a different approach to stopping the leaks. Instead of intensifying rules and regulations, they hired a well connected man to be the new chief spokesman. His name was Pieter Klein and his previous job was as head of RTL News. Needless to say, the leak stopped in 2006!
- Companies with sensitive security issues, such as the Government or the Police, often hire hackers to come in and hack their systems to find the weaknesses.
- Another inspiring example involves the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa. For decades, the South African rugby team was an all-white squad. To black South Africans, everything about the rugby team was a symbol of racial hatred. Even the team’s logo caused revulsion amongst black South Africans. When Mandela became President of South Africa, the ANC put great pressure on him to remove any state symbols that represented the nation’s history of apartheid. Instead of making the team’s logo illegal, Mandela walked onto the field just before the finals of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, in which South Africa’s Steenboks would be playing, to greet the crowd. What was President Mandela wearing when he stepped onto the field? The famed green rugby shirt with the traditional steenbok logo. In one fell swoop, Mandela turned enemy into ally and united the nation.
- In 2006, Amsterdam alderman Mark van der Horst set out to make the city’s subway ‘vandal proof’. His approach? He hired Amsterdam’s most notorious vandals to trash a prototype model. Whatever the vandals couldn’t destroy would be deemed ‘vandal proof’.
Be creative about identifying your enemy and turning them into your friend. The rewards will be plentiful.