Of games played for thrones
9 June 2015
As Season 5 of Game of Thrones nears its end, I have come across a number of articles that have been talking about the leadership lessons that we can draw from the TV series (and presumably the books too). The first thing that comes to mind is that our world has enough problems already without having to take pointers from a bunch of people who probably kill each other more often than we have cups of coffee in a day. But then one starts realizing that maybe there is something after all to this fuss about the knowledge to be gained from the GOT. The next thing that comes to mind from there is that if there are leadership lessons to be learned for the world of business in general, surely there must be some for the capital markets too. The leading capital market sellside firms in JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and so on probably are the parallel of the seven families, along with a couple of the leading buyside firms (the upstarts to the throne?). Daenerys' dragons can be an example of game-changing technology such as Big Data processing, Cloud services or Machine learning. Similarly, the recent resignations of leading figures at some of these firms can be an example of the blood-letting we are so used to in GOT. If anything, GOT teaches us that merely changing the leadership does not change the direction the kingdom, or the firm in our case, will take. Nor does it change the impact of the environment around us. In the case of the for capital markets, for example, the tough regulatory and economic environment is here to stay. The 'winter has come' and we would do well to get used to it. We could presumably go on in this vein, but I am not sure we should draw too many parallels with, or take too many lessons from, a series that makes Greek tragedies look mild by comparison. If the pain on the screen is not enough, we are going to have to live with the very real tragedy of the season ending just when we were getting all warmed up and beginning to benefit from its infinite wisdom.