Lessons in business from Star Trek

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The Kobayashi Maru and Rules of Acquisition

The Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise in Star Trek which places a crew of trainee cadets in a no-win scenario, one in which they have to choose whether or not to attempt to rescue the crew of a stranded ship, the Kobayashi Maru, and in doing so endangering their own lives.

The simulation is set up so that there canot be a win and therefore no-one had successfully completed the mission until (pre-captain) Kirk chose not to accept the no-win situation, choosing to reprogramme the simulation instead so that a win can be achieved. As he says, ‘I don’t like to lose’ as can be seen in this great video montage below.

I think all entrepreneurs can relate to this somewhat arrogant and ultimately unreasonable attitude where we will do everything we can to find a way to succeed where others have previously failed. After all George Bernard Shaw is famously quoted as saying: ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.’

Also there are some great business lessons that can be learned from the super-capitalist alien race the Ferengi who abide by 285 ‘Rules of Acquisition‘.

Rule number 3 applies to one of the most understimated areas of business by new entrepreneurs, that of customer acquisition: Never pay/spend more for an acquisition than you have to.

In terms of reselling / upselling there’s rule number 12: Anything worth selling is worth selling twice.

On the legal side of things there’s rule 8: Small print leads to large risk.

Rule 194 is more appropriate than ever in terms of today’s customer profiling through social media channels: It’s always good business to know your customers before they walk in the door.

And in todays perceived economic doom and gloom we need to remember rule 162: Even in the worst of times, someone makes a profit.

And finally always remember rule 112: Never have sex with the boss’s sister.

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