Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why Your Business Really Failed

That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. - Steve Jobs

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. - Leonardo da Vinci

After watching another business go down the drain with some really smart MBAs at the helm, I have to admit that I’m starting to become slightly discouraged (ok … really discouraged) about the number of unnecessary business failures that are occurring.

I’m not talking about business failures where market conditions, bad luck, aggressive competition, faulty legislation, poor data or some other factors contributed to the failure.

I’m referring to a lot of well-educated MBAs, PhDs and the like setting out for success while breaking every rule of intelligent business execution, including failing to establish measurable goals and outcomes, not having realistic tactical roadmaps, ignoring the competition, refusing to take corrective action when required, not seizing opportunities laid before them, not learning from the mistakes of others, etc.

What is the reason for such sloppy business execution?

Such failures are certainly not for lack of education, access to information or because of a shortage of best practices, methodologies, frameworks and brilliant minds.  One could make a lifetime out of study and never scratch the surface of the knowledge available.

In fact, maybe we suffer from the reverse.  Maybe we have too many techniques in the business world such as SWOT, Porter 5 Forces Analysis, PEST, GE / McKinsey Matrix, backcasting and the like and people’s brains are melting under the pressure of trying to memorize all of them.

Or maybe there’s another reason.

And so with that in mind, I offer my “predicting business success model for 10-year-olds” model.  Study it carefully – there will be a test afterward.  Click on the image for a readable version.


Bottom Line

Yeah, I know … a little sarcasm can certainly be discerned from my over-simplified diagram. :-)

But the bottom line is this.

The knowledge generated by our education institutions (including MOOCs – massive open online courses), public and private entities and in Life itself is staggering in width, breadth, depth and quality.

We all have fairly unlimited access to all of this knowledge (with the exception of the awesome database that the NSA has put together).

And most importantly …….. there are many people who create success despite staggering odds. 

So there must be another reason why too many businesses fail when success should have been almost assured and why some businesses succeed when failure was confidently predicted by everyone around them.

Do you know what that reason is?

I have a suggestion but I’m not sure your ego can handle it.

Oooops … did I just answer the question by accident?

Unfortunately, skill in this area cannot be taught although it can and must be learned to be successful in a sustainable way.

In the meantime, please strive harder to not be an inspiration for posters like this:


Or this:


The world needs more people who know what they are doing …. and it needs them in a hurry.

Are you one of those people?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,


PS This applies to politicians as well.  Those studying former Premier Dunderdale’s recent flameout in Newfoundland and Labrador would do well to understand the lessons contained within or run the risk of repeating them.

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