When decisions ricochet

By Ernest Falkner III

Zillion Dollar Thinking

Ricochet: to rebound or bounce back

How does that happen? It’s when the decision does not stick. In other words, it was a mistaken decision from the start, and it eventually came back to haunt.

A prime resource for thoughtful consideration on this subject can be found in the well-written book, “Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You can Learn from Their Mistakes,” by Sydney Finkelstein.

From key sections of the book regarding decisioning mistakes:

Q. Were the executives (decision makers) just stupid?
A. No, they were remarkably intelligent.

Q. Where they blind sided?
A. In many cases, there were cautions, warnings and red flags.

Q. Was it their failure of execution?
A. Execution breakdowns are seldom the true cause of failure (with techno-monitoring 24/7). They are generally symptomatic of other problems.

Q. Were they simply not trying enough?
A. Most of the interviewees were willing to sacrifice their health, marriages, reputations and practically everything else to drive their success.

Q. Did they lack leadership skills?
A. Upon close scrutiny, this was not a true cause (most had the credentials).

In all, there were several penetrating questions and answers. The following comment was highly indicative of the overall response to this book:
    Finally, this book explained to me why people running companies can manage to make some huge mistakes (decisions). The stories are great. Anyone interested in a readable, thoughtful discussion of what is wrong with business today would like this book. It is definitely the best book out there on what needs fixing at the top of companies. There is also lots of practical advice. For example, this is the first book I've seen that says you should look at "worst practices." This is a great idea if you want to avoid big (decisioning) mistakes. This book is really worth reading.
Author’s comment:

It may seem that we are simply promoting a business book with this review, but not so. What jumped out to us was that the very people that were hand selected, paid millions, granted major responsibility and charged with leading shared a commonality: mistaken decisioning that ricocheted.

It also confirms that no company, organization or government (via the leader’s decisioning) is too big to fail. No matter what conclusions you may come to…this exercise becomes additional evidence that effective decisioning and the resulting consequences are vital to success in business and in life.

As always…you decide.