Home > Store

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

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

eBook (Watermarked)

  • Your Price: $35.99
  • List Price: $44.99
  • Includes EPUB, MOBI, and PDF
  • About eBook Formats
  • This eBook includes the following formats, accessible from your Account page after purchase:

    ePub EPUB The open industry format known for its reflowable content and usability on supported mobile devices.

    MOBI MOBI The eBook format compatible with the Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle applications.

    Adobe Reader PDF The popular standard, used most often with the free Adobe® Reader® software.

    This eBook requires no passwords or activation to read. We customize your eBook by discreetly watermarking it with your name, making it uniquely yours.

Also available in other formats.

Register your product to gain access to bonus material or receive a coupon.


  • Copyright 2016
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-438701-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-438701-7


  • Proven in high-stakes, high-risk environments—from defense to healthcare
  • For business functions ranging from marketing to HR, R&D to M&A
  • Indispensable for all executives, entrepreneurs, strategists, and product managers

This guide brings together simple, risk-free, and low-cost ways to break cycles of business failure and underperformance. These techniques aren’t new or trendy: they’ve repeatedly proven themselves in mission-critical disciplines ranging from manufacturing to space exploration, with lives and billions of dollars on the line. They work. And they’ll work for you, too.

First, you’ll learn how to use well-proven Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) techniques to anticipate potential failure points before you introduce products, implement strategy, or launch marketing campaigns. Next, utilizing Root Cause Analysis (RCA), you’ll learn to uncover the root cause of business problems, so you can solve them once and for all. Third, you’ll discover how to use an Early Warning System (EWS) to identify “driver” variables in your business, gaining timely and actionable insights without complex predictive modeling.

Whatever your role in decision-making, leadership, strategy, or product management, Breaking Failure will help you mitigate risk more effectively, achieve better results—and move forward in your career

When lives are on the line, when billions of dollars are at risk, failure is not an option. That’s why industries such as aerospace, chemical engineering, and healthcare have pioneered world-class methods for identifying, anticipating, and mitigating failure. In Breaking Failure, Alexander D. Edsel helps you adapt these proven techniques to the realities of your business.

You’ll discover how to plan more effectively for contingencies, and how to uncover and address the root causes of poor performance in business functions ranging from marketing to hiring. Equally valuable, you’ll learn how to systematically improve your situational awareness, so you can uncover problems before they damage relationships, brand reputation, or business performance.

Adapted to be 100% practical and actionable, these techniques will help companies of all sizes, in all markets. As you move towards greater speed and agility, they will become even more indispensable.

A practical, systematic approach to “Breaking Failure” in your company

  • Use Problem Framing to overcome the human bias towards thoughtless action
  • Use Failure Mode & Effect Analysis (FMEA) to anticipate problems, prioritize risks,and plan corrective actions
  • Use Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to identify true causes of failure in any process, product, or project
  • Use an Early Warning System (EWS) to quickly recognize signs of underperformance
  • Use Pre-Planned Exit Strategies and Exit Triggers to end failure and underperformance issues you can’t fix

Sample Content

Table of Contents

Introduction    xiv

State of Management    xvi

Applicability of These Concepts    xvii

Benefiting from the Topic    xvii

Chapter 1: Failure & Stagnation    1

Failure, Failure Everywhere    1

Underperformance    6

The Overlooked Costs of Failure: The Intangibles and

Opportunity Costs    7

The Clogged Pipeline    8

The Causes of Failure    9

Why Is Failure So Prevalent?    10

Final Thoughts on Failure    12

Chapter 2: Don’t Start Off on the Wrong Foot    15

The Action Bias    16

Frames    16

Framework Selection    18

The Domain Transfer of Failure Mode and Effect Analysis    22

Brief History of FMEA and Its Adoption by Different Disciplines    23

Objectives of the FMEA    25

Best Practices for a Successful FMEA    25

Components That Make Up a FMEA    26

Examples of Preventive Measures    36

Detection Measures    41

Chapter 3: The Business Failure Audit and the Domain Transfer of Root Cause Analysis    43

How Should One Proceed? The Domain Transfer of Root Cause Analysis    45

Differences Between an RCA and Functional Area Audits    46

The Adoption of Functional Area Audits    47

Background and Use of the Failure Audit (Root Cause Analysis)    49

NASA’s RCA Methodology    51

How to Conduct the Failure Audit: An Overview    51

Chapter 4: The Early Warning System    61

Background    62

Creating a Z-Score Metric for Other Areas of Business    64

The Option of Building a More Sophisticated EWS    66

Creating the EWS and Its Foundation, the Causal Forecast    67

Chapter 5: Blind Spots and Traps    83

Areas of Failure: Knowns and Unknowns    84

The “Known-Knowns”    85

The “Known-Unknowns”: Forecasting    130

Improving Forecasts    135

The “Unknown–Unknowns”    139

Chapter 6: The Preplanned Exit Strategy    143

The Trigger    144

What Should Never Factor into the Decision    148

Company, Product, and Market Exits    148

The “In-Between” Strategies (or Plan B)    150

Exit Strategies    158

Faster Exit Strategies    164

Epilogue: Challenges with Domain Transfers and the Next Major Domain Transfer    171

Facilitating Adoption    171

Finding the Team Leader    172

Triggers, Protocols, and Documentation    173

Incentivizing Behaviors    174

Professional Certifications    174

An Unlikely but Potential Solution    176

The Future Domain Transfer: Artificial Intelligence    176

Appendix: The Early Warning System-Details    191

Step 5: Entering Leading, Lagging, and Connectors into a Spreadsheet    191

Step 6: Calculating the Variance    194

Step 7: Calculating a Weighed Scored    194

Step 8: The Early Warning System Dashboard    195

Step 9: Troubleshooting: When the EWS Shows

Underperformance    196

Digging Deeper    197

The Return on Promotion (ROP)    199

Endnotes    203

Chapter 1, “Failure & Stagnation”    203

Chapter 2, “Don’t Start Off on the Wrong Foot”    204

Chapter 3, “The Business Failure Audit and the

Domain Transfer of Root Cause Analysis”    205

Chapter 4, “The Early Warning System”    206

Chapter 5, “Blind Spots and Traps”    206

Chapter 6, “The Preplanned Exit Strategy”    209

Epilogue    209

Index    211


Submit Errata

More Information

Unlimited one-month access with your purchase
Free Safari Membership