Why waiting can be more effective

waiting

Don’t do it right away, just wait and see what happens: German economist, strategist and author Holm Friebe calls this the ‘stone 
strategy’ and he explains why it works so well.

Why is the stone strategy so important now?

“Because our society emphatically values action. The world belongs to the ones who act; if you don’t try, you’ll never win, and so on. It’s all about action, change, innovation. But that’s not always the best way. It often leads to wrong decisions in business, science and politics. The tricky thing is that if we have the capability to take action, we often also feel the impulse to take that action. But that impulse 
is based on emotion, especially in unclear situations where we can’t see all the factors involved. Waiting, then, becomes a better strategy.

A good example is if you get lost—outdoors 
in the real world, I mean, with a smartphone that’s run out of battery and no GPS. If we assume that it’s likely that people will eventually search for you, ‘staying put’ is actually the best thing to do. Stay where you are, save your strength, and be economical with any supplies you have. Of the people who panic and keep walking, trying to find a place they recognize, three-quarters do not survive.”

But how can you keep still when everything is moving so fast?

“I don’t know if it’s true that things are moving ‘so fast’. You can also look at it another way: Perhaps our pace of renewal has actually slowed down 
in general. When the BBC asked 
its listeners in 2005 what the best invention of all time was, the bike 
got almost 60 percent of the votes, and the Internet only 4 percent. 
The invention of the toilet lastingly improved the lives of billions of people.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, antibiotics, airplanes, cars, the radio and the telephone were all invented. Those were big changes. What I want to say is that we should have more eye for continuity. Many fundamental things that exist now will still be around in 50 years. Distrust the mandate of change; don’t jump into line with every new trend—just keep on doing the things you already do.”

  • Read the full interview with Holm Friebe in Issue 31.

Text Catelijne Elzes  Illustration Anisa Makhoul

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