Why most things fail…And how to avoid it by Paul Ormerod

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Most business books lionise success and try and draw lessons from inside successful businesses. Having worked inside or as an agency person alongside and with great insight into supposedly successful businesses, I feel that these books are a fiction. Apparently great Machiavellian moves are in reality a series of accidents and internal disconnects that result in what is judged as a great strategic move in hindsight.

And when the business schools phone up and interview you for their case studies, who are the company executives to argue to argue with the people from the universities?

The truth is that the most organised and together organisation with the smartest people that I have worked with during my 10 or so years in agency PR was a small Texan energy company that you may have heard of: Enron.

I picked up Paul Ormerod ‘s book Why most things fail… And how to avoid it because it goes through the looking-glass and tries to identify some of the causes of failure and these turn out to be both hard to find and yet legion in number. I particularly like the way Ormerod addresses this in simple language and with a certain sense of humour. He debunks some economic theory and shows how some other models are deceptively simple, but have unintended consequences almost like a fractal equation.

Where the book doesn’t do so well is in the ‘how to avoid it’ part of the title.  I would recommend the book for anyone that has a long commute or tube journey. It is easy to pick and put down, but Ormerod writes in such a way that you will revisit the book again.