Maxims are true, until they are not

I was reading Business Week article analyzing the potential Microsoft+Yahoo merger and the article was talking about how common wisdom regarding the mega-mergers between TimeWarner+AOL was proven wrong with none of the billions in efficiencies and synergies materializing. It got me thinking about the maxims’ of business. The ones you often hear being bandied about by folks that are supposed to embody common wisdom. It’s also used when someone tries to sound smart but knows very little.

Here’s a common example.

“It’s best to be first to market”

Now think about how many times that doesn’t hold true. Examples from the iPod, VHS to the US Space program all disprove the maxim.

Which is why I’m glad that I across this great article today in Core77 where a similar designer maxim “Designers must draw” was challenged.

“The applicability of the statement, “Designers must draw,” becomes a little problematic in this light. Must they? The answer depends a lot on what comes to mind when you imagine a designer doing her job. Someone sitting at a table with a pile of markers and pencils, making marks on paper, constitutes an important but small fraction of the design process. The rest of it involves research, reviewing prototypes, writing briefs, driving CAD, talking to clients, and a hundred other things. There are plenty of designers–good ones–who haven’t picked up a marker in years.”

So while maxims might be convenient, don’t accept one at face value or risk misunderstanding what’s happening around you.

Here are links to other interesting articles on the subject

Top 5 business maxims that need to go

The problem with truisms

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