Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rubbernecking

"The extent of failures was stunning. Since 1981, 423 U.S.campanies with assets of more than $500 million filed for bankruptcy...combined assets totaled more than $1.5 trillion. What we have found is that as many as 46 percent of the failures could have been avoided"

Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui, Billion Dollar Lessons

I'm feeling like a failure voyeur visiting an amusement park for creative destruction. Big name companies, one after another, stumble and fall -- mostly from bad choices. With a little distance and a safe perch, many of these decisions seem hilariously stupid in light of the facts. Many of the CEOs seem like pumped up peacocks striding in full plumage towards the chopping block.

Millions lost chasing millions. Never again will I crack a joke about public sector debacles or nonprofit misteps. And these business failures mostly took place in non-so-bad times.

One wants to enter these stories like a galloping Paul Revere and shout that technology is changing big-time, those are not your skills, buying companies at top price is addictive and not good and that those market changes are forever.

That's the fatal attraction of rubbernecking.

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