Monday, October 08, 2012

The Wisdom of Failure

I have often blogged about failure.  Having a failure does not making someone a failure.  It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.  And of course one of the  expressions I am known for is "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap".  This is one way for companies to innovate.

So of course I was interested to read Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McCooughey's book - The Widsom of Failure - How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price

I have long said that true wisdom is learning from other people's mistakes.  Easy to say, tough to do.  There is always a temptation to think others have failed because they were not smart enough, did not work hard enough, it was the wrong time etc. but when we are in the same position, we, too, often fail.  I have seen this repeatedly in entrepreneurial situations.

The Power of Wisdom delves into almost all conceivable failure mechanisms.  It includes real life business examples.

The Wisdom of Failure has many great chapters.  One is "Seduced by Yes, Being All Things to All People".  I know I tend to lack focus and it has served me well but I also know if I had more focus on just one thing I would be stronger.  It is a balance.

Another is "Entrenched by Efficiency - Forgetting to put Effectiveness First".   Again -the title says it all.  We often chase efficiency where what we really want is effectiveness.  We sometimes measure activities where what we really want is results.

Not admitting failure can cause wrong thinking and can even lead to cheating and massive failure.  This pressure can be greatest in public companies where small failures are punished harshly and the time horizon is often months, not years.  For example, Enron chose to hide issues and ultimately became a sham until it eventually all unraveled. 

I liked the section on hoarding.  Managers sometime hoard power thus limiting themselves and their organizations.  I may actually be the opposite to that now (although I was not always that way).

Great book.  Easy read.  The pages flew by.

And the weekend was one of a lot of weeds.  Failure to weed when weeds are small means weeding when they are big. 

Great harvests of leeks, beets, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes, fennel seed, and basil.  And some harvest of green beans, peppers and eggplant.  And the approaching chill should help bring out the sweetness in the carrots and parsnips. 

I track my hours spent in garden therapy (an appropriate word coined by a friend) and I think someone could grow half their food in about 2-3 hours per week on 1/8th to 1/4 acre.  At this time of year, we never buy vegetables and the freezer is getting full.


At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Justin said...

1.) For someone so accomplished, you still read and seek knowledge. I assume you are more able than the authors of these books... why read what they have to say?

2.) I once grew some tomatos with my mom. It was pretty cool to see them get bigger.


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