Don’t be a Cargo Cult

The term “cargo cult” Comes from WWII. The US army would establish landing strip bases on isolated Pacific Islands and regularly drop cargo and supplies.

The local population, many of whom had only recently started wearing loin clothes, would be given excess supplies.

After WWII the planes stopped landing, but the locals wanted the cargo still.

Because they had absolutely no understanding of the complex civilization that is needed to seamlessly drop supplies on an isolated Pacific island, the locals concluded that Runway + Plane = Cargo.

So, they created their own runways and straw planes, and prayed to the Gods for cargo drops.

In your entrepreneurial ambitions, don’t be a Cargo Cult.

Cargo Cults copy the behaviour of successful startups without understanding how that behaviour fits into the bigger scheme of things.

Cargo Cults don’t have the appropriate mental models, also known as a latticework.

You need to develop a latticework.

For example, before starting a social network or classified ads platform, understand network effects.

Once you understand network effects, then start looking at how Facebook or Gumtree do business.

If you didn’t have the right latticework (understanding network effects), then you would simply copy Facebook’s tactics in the belief that it would result in you being as rich as Mark Zuckerberg.

That’s like standing on a Pacific island praying for cargo to fall out the sky.


Don’t be a Cargo Cult.

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