Don’t fret over bad decisions, learn from them


I can’t imagine there’s a single business leader reading this who hasn’t made a dodgy decision at one time or another that they later regretted.

After all, no one is perfect.

The reason I mention this is that this issue’s interviewee, Hobs Group chief executive James Duckenfield, cites the painful experience of a former employer of his, Kodak, as one of the most valuable business lessons in his career.

A timely reference, given last week’s quarterly results announcement from the once great brand reported overleaf.

But while the ‘old’ Kodak’s well documented digital camera blunder is a valuable lesson in ‘if you don’t attack your market, then someone else will’, the world of business is littered with dozens or possibly hundreds of equally costly cock-ups.

Some of them are almost as close to home as Kodak, for that matter.

For example, Xerox inventing the personal computer, then deciding it didn’t have a future, mothballing it and then several years later letting a youthful Steve Jobs and some Apple colleagues have a gander on a tour of Xerox’s R&D facility.

While Kodak and Xerox’s monumental oversights have entered the lexicon of business, the reality is that most bad business decisions are easily recoverable – provided you spot them and learn from them.

In fact analyzing a poor decision or strategy can often lead to those business boosting Eureka moments that we all dream of.

More importantly though, the only way to be 100% sure that you won’t ever make a duff decision is to never make a decision at all.

And, funnily enough, that also happens to be a 100% guarantee that the business will fail in the not-too-distant future anyway. 

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