5 Causes of Failure

Failure to Protect Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is huge and not many people realize just how big of a deal this is. No matter the size of the company and even if you realize it or not, there is a culture within your company. Company culture can be defined as the meaning we give to our work. Our attitudes and actions that we do at work, and even the vision that the people at the top have for the company.

The main reason I see people failing to protect the culture is that managers are way too relaxed in hiring. Most of all the jobs that I have had in the past have been only one or two in person interviews. While this might be enough for some companies, I do not think it is enough.

All possible applications should start off with a basic phone interview. Ask some basic questions. You’ll find that within the first 15 minutes or so that the person on the other end is worth it or not. For me, this makes a lot more sense since a quick call takes a lot less time than someone coming in and showing them around the office.

If the applicant seems legit and seems to know what he/she is talking about, bring them in. Show them around, introduce them to other employees that they might be working with. See how they react, are they shy? Outgoing? Does it really matter? It depends on your culture. I feel that the next step is one of the most important. Have your experts vet the applicant. Get your experts to ask them questions related to the position they are applying for. If the person will be working with a graphic designer, not as one, get the senior graphic designer to sit done with them and ask them questions. Do they know anything about graphic design? Yes or no is a moot point. You want to see how well these two people bounce off each other.

So what happens when you do not protect your culture? You’re lagging indicator will be high turnover. People are leaving because the are not a good fit for the company. It could also be that people that might be a good fit for the company are leaving because of those who are not good for the company. Have you ever worked with someone negative?

Failure to Communicate

Communication is taking a message from a sender and having it delivered to a receiver. Doesn’t sound all that hard does it? BUT what happened in school when you played telephone? By the time the message got the the end it was so far from the original that it no longer made sense. This happens with almost everything we do at work.

When a new project starts up and no one is on the same page, that project may not fail, but will never be the best that the company can output. Sometimes this is called “managing expectations”.

There are a few different failures when it comes to this. The first is too many layers that the message has to travel. The regional manager tells the state manager, the state manager tells the district manager, the district manager tells the store manager, the store manager tells the employees. This, in my opinion, is way too complicated and has way too many layers to be effective.

The other type of communication failure happens when the sender cannot properly deliver the message. An example of this type would be if someone asked you to wash the windows, so you wash the inside of the windows. However, what the sender really meant to say was, wash the outside of the windows.

Failure to Change

As companies grow they need to evolve and when a company cannot evolve, it will fail. The company should always be asking, “Is this the best way?”, “What isn’t working about this process?”, and my favorite question, “What is the problem you are trying to solve?”. If a process is in place and it is apparent that it falls short of the goal you want, then keep what works and get rid of/change what is not working.

Far too often people will continue to do something while expecting better results. It also seems that a lot of people are in denial or at least too afraid to admit failure in a process they came up with. It’s also true that some people just keep on using the exact same processes that they were taught when they first came into the company.

Failure to Focus

An organization needs to focus on as few of goals as possible. It doesn’t make sense to focus on many different industries if you are a startup company. Do you think the bar code would have been as successful if it had been marketed to every industry and not just to grocery stores?

The case can also be made for a company that has a too specific goal in mind. For example, if my company only did blackberry apps. Why can’t I change the focus to mobile instead and blackberry apps be rolled up underneath that umbrella?

Failure to Acknowledge Experts

It is my belief that everyone is an expert in something. We can all learn something new from someone else. This is why I think of people as experts. If you are a graphic designer, you make things pretty and have specialized knowledge to do so. If you’re a [insert programming language here] developer, you make functional software and have the knowledge to do so.

The same is said for project managers, sales agents, etc. The point here is, look at everyone as an expert. Trust your experts! I’ve had the pleasure of having account executives tell me how to program. It’s very frustrating for someone to tell another how to do what they know the most about.

I know nothing of marketing, and therefore I would consult a CMO for these things.


These are the 5 things that I have found to be true while building my own companies and then having them crash and burn to the ground. I have also seem most of these in companies I have worked for in the past and have watched those companies slowly fail.

After spending a long time thinking about failure and reasons for failure, is where this list has came from. While most of these are reasons are related to a company, I think they have a lot to do with personal success and failures.

So I challenge you for entire week to, protect your culture: only allow those in your life that are like minded, communicate: make sure you can send your message to people and verify that they understand it, change: find something that is wrong in your life and find another way to do it, focus: stop multitasking and only work on one project at a time, and acknowledge experts: you’re not as smart as you think, learn from those around you instead of pushing your “knowledge” on them.