The final episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones, The Children, yielded some interesting lessons.
The episode tied together a number of storylines and leaves enough cliff hangers to have any watchers champing at the bit for season five. Given all the action, and the number of scenes, there was a lot to choose from for business insights; below are some obvious and overriding themes that are true of all business situations.
So, what are this week’s lessons?
You can never see the whole board
Following his decision to hunt down Mance, as outlined last week, Jon Snow is in the position to put his plan into action.
But, he is thwarted by the arrival of Stanis Baratheon and his army.
While the threat to the Wall is somewhat abated for Jon and Mance remains alive for now, their respective situations are thoroughly changed by Stanis’ arrival.
The fact Stanis has raised an army changes the power politics for the rest of Westeros, but like Jon and Mance, most of Westeros won’t yet know this. They will go on as they have, because they don’t yet know about Stanis’s play for the Iron Throne, and they aren’t prepared for this development.
Business lesson: You need to be aware of your competition’s potential. And, you need to realistic about how the competition could be moving in areas you don’t even know about. Yet.
Be careful who you pick a fight with
While on their way to the Eyrie, Brienne and Podrick stumble upon Arya and the Hound. After a brief interaction, the Hound questions Brienne’ allegiances, questions her intelligence, and engages in brutal fight.
This melee ends with the Hound falling off a cliff and receiving a broken leg after a sound beating.
While he may not yet be dead, he was thoroughly beaten, got robbed of his silver, and left to fate. Among his last words are lamenting being bested by a woman, and begging Arya to kill him as she walks away.
Business lesson: Some battles are going to end badly. Especially if it is unnecessary and you think you’re a sure thing to outsmart, outlast or outplay the competition.
A man’s enemies shall be those of his own household
In the final scene, Tyrion enters his father’s (Tywin) chambers, and discovers Tywin, has been sleeping with Shae, Tyrion’s former lover and confidant. This betrayal should probably not be a surprise, given it appeared his father was ready to have Tyrion executed.
After a struggle, an emotional Tyrion kills Shae, and then locates his father in the privy. After a short discussion, Tyrion shoots his father twice with a crossbow, and appears to makes his escape.
With that, whatever plans Tywin had for the future of Westeros or Lannister family, it’s now probably gone – especially with Stanis’ freshly assembled army some way to the North.
Business lesson: Those closest to you and your objectives can cause the most difficulty and foil your plans most easily.
This final episode of the season showed us that if you can’t see what your competition is doing or, you don’t know the the real intent of those closest to you, the best made plans account for nothing.
If that’s isn’t a true fact in business, I don’t know what is! Until next season.
Dominic Collins is a public affairs professional, specialising in stakeholder engagement, position development, communications and advocacy. A highly effective written and oral communicator who normally writes more serious pieces, he just couldn’t resist sharing the business lessons learned from Game of Thrones this week. He is a consultant at edgelabs.