Many years ago I worked for, and learned a huge amount from, a negotiator who was (and is) a legend in the energy business. His achievements in bringing home the bacon against all odds and all predictions are legion: and his methods have always been ones I have sought to deploy wherever appropriate.
However, as is often the case with anyone of extreme achievement, his MO was itself at an extreme end of the spectrum. He was essentially 100% a tactician - strategy never came into it, it wasn't in his repertoire.
The typical story would go like this. Andy would be summoned at short notice to a meeting of deeply worried senior executives. By hook or by crook, they would say, we must get a controlling interest in this new production licence that's become available. It's critical to our operating plan, and our year-end targets.** But OtherCo aren't budging. We can afford $X million, and not a penny more, otherwise the reserves won't be earnings-accretive. Andy, it looks to be impossible - but we need you to work your magic: and we need it by the end of next month. We absolutely must have it!
So off Andy would go, make a few 'phonecalls, set up a few lunches. (Lunch was a big feature of his tactical playbook.++) After a couple of days he'd require one of the company's best lawyers to be at his beck & call, plus an economist and a couple of other select types. He'd exude a well-practised air of terrible stress coupled with ultimate optimism; would always say "everything's OK", and mostly be left alone.
One month later, he'd reconvene the worried execs and the lawyer would drop a large bundle of draft contract papers on the table. Have you got it, Andy? - "Yep, 51% for X million. Justin will go through the paperwork with you. Sorry, I had to spend the whole lot, they wouldn't take anything less. And best not ask me about my lunch bills, hoho!" The mood in the room would rapidly become euphoric; there'd be a joky conversation about expense accounts and how he'd be fired for his lavish ways, hohoho! - and a queue would form to shake his hand. Justin would be set on to convene them again at a later date to summarise the terms of the deal.
A few days later, the CEO would erupt into his room. You never said you'd sold them the ABC exploration concession! That was going to be the centrepiece of next year's drilling programme!!
"Ah well", Andy would say: "don't worry, it's a side deal, not a consideration: it won't affect the earnings. 'By hook or by crook', remember? 'Absolutely must have it' -?"
See, Andy was a tactician. He'd win you any particular battle, as instructed, against all odds, widely thought impossible: but with no view to what happened thereafter. There were other tough commercial challenges that ultimately proved to be tractable using different approaches, but were quite beyond Andy to pull off. Not A Strategist.
So here's the question. Dominic Cummings is evidently thoughtful (see his copious writings^^), and seems to know how to win battles. Maybe he's about to win another, and crown his career.
But is he leaving 2020+ to look after itself?
** meaning their bonuses, inter alia
++ a tactic I have gladly adopted in my own dealings ... well, I'm a good student
^^ upon analysis, many of them have the benefit of hindsight