Aesop & Business: Never Trust Your Enemy

The Ass, the Fox, and the Lion

THE ASS and the Fox, having entered into partnership together for

their mutual protection, went out into the forest to hunt.  They

had not proceeded far when they met a Lion.  The Fox, seeing

imminent danger, approached the Lion and promised to contrive for

him the capture of the Ass if the Lion would pledge his word not

to harm the Fox.  Then, upon assuring the Ass that he would not

be injured, the Fox led him to a deep pit and arranged that he

should fall into it.  The Lion, seeing that the Ass was secured,

immediately clutched the Fox, and attacked the Ass at his



“Never trust your enemy”

This seems to be obvious in the business world, but nonetheless, businesses fall into this trap each and every day.  Generally, the trap is not as simple as entering into some sort of illegal collusion, as this story would seem to represent, but there are many other ways that you can “trust” your enemy that will come back to haunt you.  Buying parts or products from a competitor can boost their production, allowing them to lower their own cost, or putting them in a position where they can suddenly stop supplying you in order to cause a supply disruption on purpose.  Trusting information from a trade partner about competitive actions when you know that you have fed that same trade partner inaccurate information in the past knowing that it would get to said competitor.  Saying no to a potentially profitable business deal because it would degrade the entire market and because you are completely confident that none of your competitors will take on such a dangerous deal.  All of these situations routinely come up in business, and risks are often taken without fully examining how your competitors might be able to get the upper hand due to the decision.  For example, if the Fox had only led the Ass to the Lion, rather than trapping the Ass, the Lion would have been forced to attack the Ass while the Fox fled to safety.  Always game out any situation that involves your competitors, determine what you would do in that situation, what the competitors have done in similar situations in the past, and what has happened in neighboring industries when situations have come up like this previously.  Once you have gamed it all out, then leave yourself back-up plans and escape routes with built-in triggers that will tell you when you need to use them.  Trusting an enemy not to hurt you is the equivalent of putting a dollar in a beggars hand and trusting them to give it back to you the next day.  The enemy is out to defeat you, do not give them an inside advantage.

About Todd Hagopian (@ToddHagopian)

Todd Hagopian received his BA from Eastern Michigan University with a major in Political Science. After graduation, he worked as a Financial Advisor and a Bank Manager before returning to school. He attended Michigan State University, where he completed an MBA with a double-major in Finance and Marketing. Todd is now a Senior Product Development Manager for a Fortune 500 company. He frequently writes about business issues, social media strategy, and political issues that he finds important. Enjoy the blog!

Posted on December 12, 2011, in Aesop's Fables & Business, Business Strategy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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