“A wise man watches his faults more closely than his virtues; fools reverse the order.” -- Napoleon Hill
Bewailing lamentable losses
Here thirteen failures over the course of a career are described. (Thirteen, associated with bad luck, was chosen as a counterpoint to the wins, seven, associated with good luck.) The thirteen begin with an academic "crash and burn" as a young student and culminate with a two million (twenty million?) dollar strategic blunder in China. They end with a partial description of a minor error made with a CEO October 2009 followed, sadly, by another error, which had repercussions in 2011 and beyond. However the CEO is adamant that the outcome was not the coach’s fault, and does not want the full story on the website.
For a summary case, a minor project in which just about every error in the book was made, go to number (8) Project Management, Italy. For a horrendous case of mismanagement, a gross, repeated series of errors exhibiting extraordinarily bad judgment and leading to irreparable harm, see (10) Property Management, U.S. For a sad coaching error, see (13) Coaching India/Norway.
Besides various business blunders, four times in my life there have been personal seven figure losses, which are not recounted here. For huge, gargantuan failures, where tens of thousands of jobs were destroyed and hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars were pulverized, A. Seven Key Factors to Fantastic Failures and Billion Dollar Blunders at V. Q-Strategy for Turnarounds, Services.
Many people admit to mistakes, but claim not to repeat them, rapidly learning from them. However my heritage is Scots. I am stubborn, indeed, relentless. I repeat the same error, over and over again. Eventually, bloody and bowed, I come to realize that one procedure or another is not an optimal "career enhancement" or "profit improvement" strategy. The painful lessons from these repeated errors have proved useful in teaching (above all, executive MBA courses) and coaching.
Profit from these mistakes, large and small, the large at Billion Dollar Blunders (linked above) and the small as presented here. Consider them carefully and step elegantly around them. You, a leader, will not be so foolish as to make similar ones.
They are described in the chapters listed below, some mistakes old, some new, some with rebounds, others with repeats, and all with hints as to what one can learn from them.
1) Academic, U.S. the 70´s - lack of preparation
Compelling Event: The University of Pennsylvania . . .
2) Cultural, Iran 1978 – misjudgment and mismanagement
2.1) Compelling Event: As a country manager . . .
2.2) Compelling Event: Country risk analysis . . .
3) Applications, global, 1980s - 2009 - networking – the 30-year error
Compelling Event: The first time I applied to McKinsey …
4) Communication, Germany 1990 - unwarranted assumption
Compelling Event: As the new CEO of BFS GmbH in Munich . . .
5) Negotiation, U.S. 1992 - victim of intimidation
Compelling Event: As executor of a will in South Carolina . . .
6) Investment, U.S./CH 1996 – 2008 - greed, lack of due diligence
Compelling Event: In 1996 Lucent Technologies . . .
7) Licensing, U.S./Germany 1998 – 2006 - lack of follow-up
Compelling Event: After being granted a patent . . .
8) Project Management, Italy 2003 - unclear goals and responsibilities, an unprecedented double whammy failure
Compelling Event: Refosco is a wonderful red wine . . .
9) Strategy, China, 2004 - improper team coordination
Compelling Event: Recycling plastic waste . . .
10) Property Management, U.S. 2005 - improper agent selection
Compelling Event: After a roof repair quote of $125,000 . . .
11) Strategic Alliance, Germany 2008 – wrong market niche
Compelling Event: After selecting 17 possible allies . . .
12) Government work, U.S. 2009 wrong sales strategy
Compelling Event: After writing a white paper on the U.S. Health Care system . . .
13) Coaching, India/Norway 2009- 2011 - crisis management awry
Compelling Event: The missing of a deadline by a client firm . . .