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November 14 , 2008

Billion-Dollar Lessons


How to avoid the mistakes that lead to the majority of business failures. Most executives shudder at the word "failure" and try to avoid thinking about it. No wonder there are thousands of books about successful companies but virtually none about the lessons to be learned from those that crash and burn. Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui think there's enormous value in learning from companies that lost millions (if not billions) in pursuit of strategies that led to spectacular flameouts. Everyone makes mistakes, but why make the same mistakes over and over? The authors studied the most significant failures of the last twenty-five years: 750 bankruptcies, major writeoffs, and discontinued operations. They found that the #1 cause of failure was misguided strategy- not sloppy execution, lack of leadership, or bad luck. These strategies fall into eight categories, including: • Trying to fix a core business that's unfixable • Moving into an "adjacent" market that isn't really Adjacent • Buying more problems than efficiencies through misguided consolidation Billion Dollar Lessons offers "devil's advocate" questions that managers, boards, and investors can adopt.

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