Monday, September 15, 2008

Billion Dollar Mistakes

Guy Kawasaki has an interview with Chunka Mui, the author of Billion-Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years, on AMEX Open Forum blog. Here are two gems:

"The short answer is bad strategy. Some 46% of the 750 failures we studied in detail occurred because of a strategy that could have been seen as ill-conceived at the time–in other words, not because of crummy luck or bad execution, even though conventional wisdom seems to be that good execution can make any idea work."

Question: How does one choose between “staying the course in the face of doubt” and “embracing change”?

Answer: That’s a tough question. We know it’s possible to give up a market too soon, but we can tell you that the really big failures came from staying with an existing strategy too long. Kodak tried to hold onto the traditional market for film, chemicals and paper so long that it’s riding that one into the ground, while its main competitors, Agfa and Fuji, saw the change soon enough that they fared much better.
You also saw this sort of behavior from your old rival IBM, when they decided to milk the market for 286-based PCs in the late 1980s and delayed introducing machines based on the 386–only to have Compaq and then others take that market from IBM. There are lots of red flags that can indicate that you’re staying the course too long. Probably the best exercise is to make a set of predictions toward the beginning of a possible change.

See you in Atlanta on Oct. 2.

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