Relentlessly Pursuing Failure

I've seen it myself, and you probably have too. Some course of action or project is started, and it becomes apparent that it cannot succeed. Maybe it's a bad idea to start with, or it could be that limited resources do not permit success. Yet a stubborn business leader insists that the course must be followed, all the way to the end. And the end is certain failure, recognized by everybody.

Such projects suck up the resources that are available--resources that could be better used on productive projects. They drain people of their energy and leave the company worse off than before.

I guess it's a hard thing to admit that an idea is a bad one, and to call it off before more damage is done. But stopping this destructive train ride is necessary to prevent a disaster. Many business leaders lack the courage to make calls like this. Why?

This article offers a reason.

My experience shows that the ones who are most likely to be devoted to a failure in progress are also the ones more prone to think highly of their own leadership abilities and their capacity to "see through to core issues." In other words, the bigger the ego, the more frequent the failures.

A former boss of mine was so into his own self importance that he would even go so far as to gather key people and instruct them to lie to the business owner about failing projects by saying things were going well. The company was bleeding money, and he wanted more of it! Of course, a project that you have to lie about is never going to succeed, and instructing people to engage in such dishonesty should be grounds for immediate termination of employment.