The Eponymous Principles of Management : The Murphy’s Law and Its Variants – The Sod’s Law : The Irony of Fate

The Sod’s Law – if something can go wrong, it will[1]– is broader, in the meaning and applicability, than the Murphy’s Law. It reflects more on the mockery that fate plays with a ‘sod’ – that poor chap.

The Sod’s Law is not just about things going wrong, but with the ironies of fate. ‘Life’s little ironies’, as Thomas Hardy called them. And in fact, Hardy’s novels can best be read as illustrations of the inexorability of sod’s law.

This is best illustrated by the example of the probability of the tossed coin falling ‘heads’ or ‘tails’. The 50:50 mathematical probability of coin falling heads or tails remains true with our poor chap, sod, but it falls ‘heads’ when he expects it to be ‘tails’ and falls ‘tails’ when he expects it ‘heads’. Thus, Sod’s Law states how something will go wrong just exactly when one most wants it to go right.

Murphy’s Law is an American point of view. However, since the name Murphy has a strong Irish connotation, the British side prefers to use term Sod’s Law. However, apart from this rather simplistic comparison of the two laws, if we closely read the wording of each law, we do see the relative simplicity of Murphy’s Law and has more positive and optimistic clarification by Capt. Edward A. Murphy which reads, If it can happen, it will.’” So, if things would only go wrong when they can, one can always take preventive action so that they don’t. That way. Murphy’s law provides a forceful, energetic incentive to be more careful:,

On the other hand, the close reading of Sod’s law shows it will operate however careful and energetic you are. The best that anyone can do is ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst; accept what the fate has hidden in its store. When it comes out in open accept that as it has come —preferably with a wry smile.

Of course, there are a few lucky one who always call their bet correctly, every time, much against the normally expected pattern of luck favouring a bet in any set of ‘free’ play of betting. One may even like to call it an exception to the Sod’s Law.

Also excluded form the scope of application of Sod’s Law are the ‘Black Swan’ events, events that happen extremely rarely, like scientific discoveries, historical events and artistic achievements and the like. Being extremely rare, they don’t happen often enough for to be able to work out the patterns of their occurrence, so to say, almost in random pattern. In other words, the application of the law, typically, is about the events that happen in the normal course of our lives. But if one looks back over a longer span t=of time, even these evets invariably happen, and thus do follow Sod’s Law.

The bottom line is, whether person is stupid enough not plan actions with respect to what is seen on the future or a wise one who does all possible elaborate planning to ensure that anything and everything preventable in the foreseeable future is explicitly addresses through some or other type of risk mitigation system, the world of the nature has far too many variables to make the Sod’s Law to come into play.

[1] Sod’s Law Explained



In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: