This week’s riff: Later today, I’m visiting the Scythians exhibition at The British Museum. I’m going with my wife, Scythia, who, via her maternal grandmother, is named after this relatively obscure ancient civilization.

The Scythians were formidable nomadic warriors. Based on the Russian Steppe, their power and influence extended from the Black Sea to China in the years 700-200 BC, and they were feared adversaries of the Persians, Greeks and Assyrians.

The Director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg has written that the Scythians “combined barbarian ferocity with exceptional talent.” Scythia, on the other hand, has only half of those characteristics!

Speed and mobility were at the heart of the Scythians’ success. Having no major cities to support or defend, these expert equestrians could move and fight at a pace which their foes found impossible to match.

Many leaders talk about how they are improving their company’s speed and agility. But improving your speed demands that you make real choices about the nature of your organization and how it operates.

As nomads, for instance, the Scythians did not allow themselves to become weighed down with unnecessary assets, such as buildings and towns, and gave their ‘generals’ total freedom to choose their battles to extend Scythian power.

What specific choices, decisions and actions have you taken in the last six months to improve the speed of your business, and what plans do you have for further improvement in the next six months?


Off The Record: The Scythians by Herodotus

No song lyrics this week, but a description of the Scythians by the ancient Greek historian and writer, Herodotus:

None who attacks them can escape, and none can catch them if they desire not to be found. For when men have no established cities or fortresses, but all are house-bearers and mounted archers, living not by tilling the soil but by cattle-rearing and carrying their dwellings on wagons, how should these not be invincible and unapproachable?


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.