Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Billion Dollar Lessons

FULL DISCLOSURE: a copy of this book was provided to me free of charge for review.

I had a chance to read Billion Dollar Lessons, which will be publicly available on September 11, 2008 and I found it to be a worthwhile read. The book essentially extracts failures that very large corporations have made and performs a failure analysis to provide readers with the ability to (hopefully) learn from those failures without having to actually having to fail themselves.

Some of the stories have been told before in other business books, but I did like the level of depth that the authors put into many of the stories; I especially enjoyed the story about the Motorola Iridium project and the amount of detail surrounding the failure of that project. I actually thought, and still do think, that a satellite-based voice and data network has a place and can be profitable, but it was very interesting to read about how not to go about launching one.

The underlying theme of the book is that failures in large-scale corporations result from overall strategic failure and poor implementation of the strategic process. There are many examples within the book about how the flat out ego-based decisions of upper management flew baldly in the face of what, in retrospect, appears to be common sense and/or researched conclusions. Although the authors do not try to pin everything on an ego vs. common sense argument, as many good business decisions involve a healthy amount of ego-based thinking, they do suggest the use of someone within the strategic decision process playing the role of advocatus diaboli (devil's advocate) -- read Chapter 10 about this as it's a very worthwhile takeaway from the book and immediately applicable to businesses of all sizes.

Some of the chapters are really only applicable to very large businesses and could probably be skipped unless you work in one.

Overall I found the book to be a worthwhile read.

Link -- Amazon

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