Introduction to Breaking Failure: How to Break the Cycle of Business Failure and Underperformance Using Root Cause, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, and an Early Warning System
Benefiting from the Topic
“Volume hides a multitude of sins” is one of those wisdom-laden quotes of unknown origin but of profound significance to this book and topic. As explained in Breaking Failure, business failure and underperformance is more prevalent and likely to occur than most people suspect. However, all failures and underperformances are not equal. At large corporations, mistakes that would sink a small or medium-sized company are often swept under the rug or shrugged off. There is also the emotional and family sacrifice that business failure can bring to individuals in start-ups and smaller companies. While the book is of benefit to everyone, it is especially important to those with the most “skin in the game,” be it in their careers or business.
The book is like a workout; it requires more focus than if reading a “get rich quick,” theoretical or opinion type business book. However, as with a workout when done correctly, it can translate into very tangible benefits. In addition, expensive and complex solutions have been eliminated from this book so that any small, medium-sized, or large company can benefit from its easy-to-understand concepts and techniques. These techniques do require a relatively modest investment, but only in time and not money. The bigger challenge, similar to exercise, is in developing the discipline to apply these techniques on a regular basis.
Many of the case studies used are about launching and managing products or about conducting different types of campaigns. However, these techniques can be used in any area of business, such as Human Resources to determine why 30 percent of new hires underperform and have to be let go after 12 months (using a Root Cause Analysis). It can be used by the Strategy or Mergers and Acquisition group to analyze all the things that could go wrong with a new company acquisition (using a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) or by the Finance department to see why their investment choices are underperforming. In this last example, contributors to failure may have included immediate causes such as a sudden increase in the interest rate. What this book explains is how to go beyond that and find out what faulty decisions or assumptions led to the undesired outcome.
Finally, the ROI and benefits from applying these techniques should be readily apparent given that they have been proven and used by other disciplines and industries for decades—just not in key areas in business such as innovation, strategy, marketing, product management, sales, and finance.