Summary of The Wisdom of Failure

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Failure is treated unfairly. Professor of management Laurence G. Weinzimmer and business consultant Jim McConoughey discuss leadership failure and its repercussions as reflected in published research, a survey of managers and interviews with business leaders. Their guide to learning from failure is entertaining and insightful, though it does not set out to plow new ground. getAbstract recommends this basic, easy-to-read manual to leaders and managers who want to understand what worked in the past, what did not and why, so they can benefit from their failures.

About the Authors

Laurence G. Weinzimmer is a professor of management at the Foster College of Business Administration at Bradley University. Business development consultant Jim McConoughey is a fund manager for venture and early-stage capital investments.

 

Summary

“Flawless Leadership: Learning the Lessons Without Paying the Price”

Kenneth Lay, the former chairman of Enron, and Jim Owens, the former CEO of Caterpillar, shared similar backgrounds: Both grew up in the same generation and with little money. Each labored hard, working numerous jobs while studying at state universities. Both earned PhDs in economics before becoming CEOs of top companies. However, the two had divergent leadership styles: Owens learned from failure, while Lay chose to ignore it. Lay’s career ended in disgrace.

Business leaders who do not fail are not taking enough risks. Yet failure bears a lasting stigma in the business world. While leaders can learn more from failure than from success, they will fall from grace if their constituencies perceive them as bombing too often. Leaders must learn two important skills: understanding what worked in the past and what did not, and determining why a mistake occurred so they do not repeat it.

“Seduced by Yes: Trying to Be All Things to All People”

Leaders who abandon their strategic direction and become greedy risk destroying their businesses; they fail in the area of “unbalanced orchestration.” ...


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    P. B. 8 years ago
    Good read for all Managers
  • Avatar
    A. 8 years ago
    Completely agree with the cautionary tale of discounting and how that can affect the value of not just the product but the entire brand.