One of the biggest problems in business isn’t failure. It’s failing too slowly.
The biggest failure of all is never failing at all. If you never fail, you are playing it too safe. You are taking zero risk. A culture with a fear of failure is a culture doomed tofailure. Others in the marketplace will pass you by, and it may be too late by the time you realize it.
“The biggest failure of all is never failing at all.” -Skip Prichard
Failing quickly is much better than failing slowly. Have you ever been in a business and known something was going to fail? For whatever reason, the project marches onward. Meanwhile, everyone who touches it knows the project is doomed. Yet on it goes, sometimes for years. I’ve seen some huge, expensive projects continue when, if someone would just do a reality check, the decision to kill it would be obvious.
Regular readers of this blog know that I love to study how and why people are able to overcome obstacles and achieve success. I recently had the opportunity to meet Jennifer Pharr Davis, who is the record holder for traversing the Appalachian Trail. She hiked the Trail’s 2,175 miles in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, becoming the first woman to hold the record.
Nothing Can Stop A Determined Mind
The list of obstacles she faced on her journey include physical and mental obstacles:
She was struck by lightning.
Her eyes were frozen shut.
She faced everything from insects to wildlife like bears and rattlesnakes.
Critics said a woman couldn’t hold the record. A hiker couldn’t best a runner.
A few weeks ago, I spoke at a Distressed Investing Conference in Florida. It’s really a turnaround conference designed for professionals focused on fixing troubled companies. Since I’ve had plenty of crisis management experience in turning around troubled businesses, I was asked to share war stories and strategies. I also enjoyed the opportunity to network and learn from the 200 industry leaders in attendance.
Here are the five major points I shared:
1. Control. I’m not a big proponent of top-down, autocratic management systems. I much prefer an entrepreneurial environment with lots of input and a leader with a persuasive style. In a crisis, though, it’s often necessary to ramp up the control level and increase the speed of decision making. I tend to move very fast anyway, and I like to seek opinions and then make a decision and move on. If you are in trouble, you don’t have the luxury of numerous meetings and extensive analysis.
I recently visited Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas. Sitting in his condo in a room lined with hundreds of plants and overlooking the Vegas skyline, we talked about his success and what’s next for Zappos.
Zappos.com is an online retailer with a specialty in shoes. It has branched out into other clothing lines in recent years. It is known for its exceptional customer service.
You may naturally think that as the CEO of a book company that I am going to suggest giving a book. Well, that’s always a great idea, but I have found something that I think is even better, even cheaper, and even more enduring.