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Published:January 20th, 2008 21:28 EST
Can You Plan, Even When the Outcome Should Be Random?

Can You Plan, Even When the Outcome Should Be Random?

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

I talk business with entrepreneurs and business owners all day long, every day of the week. It's my passion. It's what I love to do more than anything else. Business owners frequently misunderstand a concept that I call "stacking the deck." Stacking the deck in cards is a form of cheating in which the dealer places the cards in an order that allows him to know how the cards will fall before they are dealt.

In business, "stacking the deck" isn’t cheating – it refers to a form of strategic planning that allows a business operator to predict what's going to happen long before events take place and to plan accordingly. It's a powerful form of planning that every entrepreneur needs to consider. If you know a lot about your business and what you're going to do and when you're going to do it, you have a great opportunity to execute your business plan with precision and success that takes advantage of your knowledge of likely outcomes, rather than leaving yourself open to the randomness of chance.

You can "stack the deck" in your favor.

My friends and clients know that I spend a lot of time in Las Vegas because I have business interests there. The most random of all the games in Las Vegas appears to be roulette, in which a ball is spun against a rail and drops into a slot on a wheel with 38 spaces. One would think that nothing could be more random than where the ball lands.

Well, maybe not.

You have to ask yourself: is it possible for someone to become so expert and precise at dealing the little ball and spinning it against the wheel that he or she can predict where the ball will land?

I'm told by several dealers in Las Vegas that it's not only possible for the dealer to by-pass the laws of chance, but to manipulate the system to give the house a dramatic advantage. The dealer who spends eight hours a day spinning a little ball against a moving wheel eventually learns how hard to throw the ball and at what point in the cycle he or she needs to release the ball so that it lands in or near the predicted slot. The best dealers become extremely adept at predicting and forcing the ball into, if not the exact hole they want, a small range of holes that takes much of the chance out of the game.

Is it possible for business owners to become so expert and exacting that they can predict with reasonable accuracy what's going to happen long before other people realize that's going on? Absolutely. I live my life that way. I focus on what I’m best at, and because I work hard and pay attention, I typically know what’s going to happen in a given situation at the outset. This gives me a competitive edge over those who allow themselves, either out of ignorance or simply because they don’t put enough effort into planning, to be buffeted by random chance.

If you try, you can do the same thing. Focus on what you're excellent at, stack the deck and use your skills to take your business to the next level, by crafting strategies that leverage your knowledge of your business and your industry and its likely future and implementing them with precision.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you're building your career, focus on what you're good at and create strategies that take advantage of your strengths and your knowledge of the direction the market is likely to take. If you do this, you can take much of the random chance out of the operation of your business and stack the deck for your own success.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.

Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit or