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This Week's Finds in Planning is the blog of Martin Krieger, Professor of Planning at the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

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Entrepreneurship and Pearl Harbor

Originally published in the early 60s, Roberta Wohlstetter's PEARL HARBOR accounts for the surprise of PH by the noise that overwhelms the signals. Retrospectively, all is clear. Prospectively or in actual time, all those breadcrumbs are mixed in with crumbs from seven other bakeries and a thousand passersby.

The best you can do is to take warnings seriously, AND set up picket fences to slow down opponents. You won't stop them completely, but you can make it harder for them at modest cost to yourself. Hence even an inadequate deployment of cruisers around Oahu would have made the Japanese think twice.

Just because something is unimaginable does not mean that it is improbable, is the message in Schelling's forward.

My take is about entrepreneurship: You have an idea, and figure that you must succeed in something like two years. You feel that if you don't pursue it, you have lost your mojo. You also know that your competitors will doom you if you don't succeed in those two years, for they might well catch up. You will make your major announcement now, for you are ready--and you tell yourself that the competitors might cede some of the market to you. But that is just telling yourself. But that uncertain longer term is not going to stop you from trying. In other words, you don't think in terms of real options.

(Japan is the entrepreneur; the competition is US, UK, the Dutch; the idea is the Greater Asian Prosperity Sphere; the announcement is PH (albeit you have made earlier announcements, as in Manchuria, but no real competition is present then); mojo is Japanese honor and also the anti-mojo is Japan becoming a tenth-rate power, unable to follow the West's imperialist model (the UK is also a small island state); catching up is awakening the US's industrial military might; you are ready since you have extended the range of your bombers to 450 miles but really need 500 miles and hope the pilots are careful with their fuel, the torpedos have been adapted to PH's low-depth; and no one really thinks through what might follow if success does not happen in the first year, for to do so is to violate a taboo and to be dishonorable.)

As for the picket fences in actual entrepreneurship, they may be patents, design elements, pricing, proprietary features, even disinformation.