Avoiding Business Dragons

//Avoiding Business Dragons
  • Catalyst Consulting: Dragons in business

“We’ve done better by avoiding dragons than by slaying them.”    

–Warren Buffett, CEO Berkshire Hathaway

(Mr. Buffett wrote the above in 1989.  I just read it recently.  I value writing that makes me think!  This quote is great fodder for thinking.)




 What do dragons look like?  What do they sound like?  How do we determine if those are dragons or puppies over there?

Choose your battles.  Don’t fight, if you don’t need to.
There’s likely more than one way to get over the bridge. 

Where is it we’re going, anyway? 

What’s REALLY important?  Have we chosen that yet?  Identified that yet?

Are we gambling or investing?  (It’s smart to think about this.)

Are we good at fighting dragons?  Do we have dragon expertise?

And if we ARE good at fighting dragons, is dragon-fighting the best use of our skills and resources?
(Some people think it’s noble to fight dragons, they enjoy it.  It’s a thrill.  They hunt for dragons.)

What’s in it for us, if we choose to fight dragons?  Is it worth it?  (There ARE things worth fighting for.) 

Throwing ourselves in, in front of baby dragons, may be good practice.
We may get a little singed, someone may get left behind, but we’ll likely learn a lot about what it takes to get where we’re going.

When we choose to fight, what’s important to prepare as we go to battle?
Have we identified the needed equipment and expertise that we need?

Do we WIN when we fight dragons? 

What is it that we win, when we win?
Is the outcome fulfilling and satisfying? 

What IS the value of dragon fighting for us?

What does dragon fighting COST us?  Is the cost worth it?
Do we get a useful / valuable return on investment?

Have we been pretending and hoping there WON’T be dragons?
(Especially when we’re going into dragon country?)

Many people won’t fight dragons unless it’s an emergency (i.e., we’re in danger, or we’re REALLY committed to something.)

Naively and immaturely throwing ourselves into a den of dragons, without shining a light into the cave first, is a good way to lose money.


Dragon slaying is risky.  The dragon usually wins. 
Might there be a smarter, more practical, way to fulfill our intentions, where battles aren’t required?

This “dragon inquiry” offers the opportunity to stand back and think.

Does your company require trained dragon slayers for the company to be successful?
If so, it’s valuable to tell the truth about the game you’re in—to yourself and to others.
It’s smart to take dragons seriously. 

And, perhaps there are other ways to accomplish things….

By the way:  It’s important to discern the above from the imaginary dragons, the psychological dragons, that you may discover in business from time to time.  The human stuff:  fear, avoiding failure, wanting to look good, avoiding embarrassment, avoiding vulnerability.

Building muscles in dealing with THOSE dragons is always time and energy well spent!

2017-05-22T12:56:59-07:00By |Running a Business|


  1. Liz May 23, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    What are the biggest business/economic dragons you see for 2017?

    • Caryn May 23, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

      Hi Liz–This is a really good question to ask yourself, and to make the question specific to YOUR business, rather than a “philosophical question.”
      Further quoting Mr. Buffett: “Charlie and I have not learned to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them. To the extent we have been successful, it is because we concentrated on identifying one-foot hurdles that we could step over rather than because we acquired any ability to clear seven-footers.”
      What I value most in this quote is the context I suggest Mr. Buffett is coming from: “We’re in the business of of building profit and wealth. There are many ways to accomplish this. Which paths make the most sense?”

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