Corpcentre's Blog

April 18, 2010

How to Use Failure to Your Advantage

The word “failure” has negative connotations. It is hard to think of anything positive when discussing failures. Yet, many business leaders will tell you that failure is not the end of the world, nor is it only negative. While a business failure certainly implies setback, it also leaves the door open for improvement, change and opportunity.

American business leaders have embraced the opportunities presented by failures while Canadians lag behind in this respect. The inability or unwillingness to compete is a common denominator of many Canadian business disasters. One of the first lessons to be learned from a business failure is not to cut back but, rather, to dive into the marketplace and compete with all your might. Learn from failure and allow it to be the catalyst that is your driving force. In California’s Silicon Valley, business has embraced the concept of “failing well.” You made good decisions but circumstances were beyond your control. If you are good at what you do, you’ll eventually succeed. In Canada, the opposite is more common. If your business attempt failed, you’ll have a very tough time securing capital for another venture.

Failure in business can be one of your greatest teachers. Successful corporate leaders have learned from their mistakes and impart that wisdom to their employees as well. By sharing this wisdom with one’s staff, it carries the message that even the boss is not perfect. Moreover, it encourages staff to also learn from their mistakes. Every successful mega-company started small and did not achieve greatness overnight. When your staff appreciates the growing pains of a company, they can become part of the driving force to continue propelling the business forward.

This doesn’t mean that one should create a culture that focuses on failure. Just the opposite is true. A business environment should strive for success. Ultimately, that is the goal that we wish to achieve. However, every successful path has setbacks and failures. Learn to appreciate that none of us is perfect and we can learn something new everyday. The only way to avoid failure is to stop trying to achieve. Use every setback to your advantage and ultimately you will win.

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March 10, 2010

Lessons in Crisis Management

Filed under: CEO,credibility,crisis management,mistakes,Toyota — corpcentre @ 5:53 pm

It’s easy to learn from hindsight. Many an individual has attained tremendous mental wealth from looking back. The big question is whether we learn from our past mistakes, not just gather stories of deeds unaccomplished.

Toyota’s safety crisis has been the content of many a recent news item, ranging from tragedies to sensationalism to Congressional hearings. For those not directly affected by the issues at hand, there is still much to learn, especially in the realm of crisis management.

The business world will never be crisis free. However, in order to continue to thrive, managers must know how to best cope in a crisis situation. Failing to respond to the crisis at hand may prove to exacerbate an already difficult situation. There are several key steps that a company, and its management, should follow in a crisis.

The CEO must take immediate command of the situation. Even if the CEO is not a polished public speaker, the public must see that the top person is in charge and leading the company in its difficult time. Otherwise, it’s a sinking ship with no captain at the helm.

As soon as possible, start the flow of information. Let the public know that the company has the situation under control and is doing its best. It’s imperative to maintain credibility with the public. As difficult as it may be, a unified, hard-working front is crucial. Not having all the answers is legitimate. However, avoiding the situation is not.

Try to think several steps ahead. Experienced management should be able to anticipate what lies ahead in a situation. Be prepared, rather than be caught off-guard.

Don’t make light of a serious situation. In a time of crisis, a company’s place is to identify with the public. After a crisis has been resolved, the company will need to maintain its customer base. The public will remember if a company identified with them or only worried about itself. Loyalty is a two way street.

Thinking carefully about how and when to act is the key to successful crisis management.

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