The War To End All Wars

Veterans Day 2008

Today is Veteran’s Day here in the US, a day where we honor those who served for their love of country and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. This day became a national holiday here in honor of the end, in 1918, of  World War I when the Allies and Germany signed an armistice. Originally Armistice Day and established in honor of WWI vets, it was renamed later on to honor those who served in subsequent conflicts in Korea and WWII.  My favorite vet – my Dad – was one of those WWII airmen who flew missions in Europe, so thanks Dad and I’m glad you made in home safely (otherwise, what would these folks be reading??).

What I’ve always found interesting about WWI was that it was justified by some at the time as The War To End War after the H.G. Wells book of a similar name on the topic.  That phrase is instructive to any of us in business.  Here’s why.

That phrase makes a promise.  Defeat the threat now and we’ll never have to do it again.  The problem is that there are very few certainties (and I’m not even certain about the death and taxes part that usually follows that) and that’s particularity true in business.  We hear companies over-promising all the time – searching the phrase “the last ____ you’ll ever buy” yields 751 Million results.  If you’re selling the “last water bottle you’ll ever buy” then I guess you’re sure it will never get lost or stolen or stomped on by my kid.  Some folks make the same sort of promises less visibly – “give us this budget and we’ll triple profits” to a boss,  “don’t worry – I’ll get you a raise” to an employee.

The alternative is what we all lovingly call “the fine print.”  I include in that the 15 seconds of speech that is condensed into 5 on radio, the type you can’t read in HD on TV, and all the other obvious disclaimers. I particularly love the second page of ads drug companies have to take in magazines to mention that the product might, in fact, kill you before it cures you.  Too much regulation?  Nope.  Too many companies making promises like fighting to end all war.

If an ad seems too good to be true and requires disclaimers, be skeptical.  I’m not at all skeptical about the honor and gratitude we owe our vets today.  The promises that made them so might be another matter.

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One response to “The War To End All Wars

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The War To End All Wars « Consult Keith --

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