So I’ve Failed Already, Now What?

Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about the 11 reasons training programs fail.  While its great to have that knowledge for the future, you may have already blown it.  In hindsight it all seems so clear, and you failed because of reasons 3, 7 and 9.  It was a huge, mega-failure!  Now what?

In Harvard Business Review, former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley offers some keen insight into his failures and how to learn from them. Of course he claims that his failures are all part of his growth and development, and that we have to move past the emotional pain and blame and figure out the what and the why of the failure.    And naturally he tells us we have to decide what we have learned and what we are going to do differently next time.

But don’t we kind of get that already?  I want to know exactly what I need to do the next time – how do I translate that learning into action, how do I decide what I’ve learned and what to do differently?  I need a process!  Well, Lafley didn’t acquire his success by mere chance – he certainly has a process.

In his tenure as CEO he had a team at P&G analyze all of their acquisitions from 1970 to 2000.  He found that only 25% to 30% of their acquisitions succeeded.  After a detailed study of those failures they found 5 fundamental root causes of failure that apply to many industries:

  1. The absence of a winning strategy
  2. Not integrating quickly or well
  3. Expecting synergies that don’t materialize
  4. Cultures that aren’t compatible
  5. Leadership that wouldn’t play together in the same sandbox

I’m betting that have encountered some of these root causes while adapting new strategies, cultural changes, or developing a strategic plan.  Have you experienced any of these failures?  What did you experience or learn from that failure?  Lafley goes on to share how P&G analyzed and changed these root causes and we will examine those in our next blog.

Amy Taliaferro is a consultant on the Brighter Strategies team.


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