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Powerful and reckless

Despite the best-laid plans, ventures do fail. As Matthew Leitch explains, finance professionals must resist the influence of power to keep their heads and prevent the more spectacular failures.

There’s no denying that some initiatives we begin will have disappointing outcomes, but to create a really monumental failure you usually need power. Here I look at some of the reasons for this disappointment, the impact of power and the extra problems that it can produce.

Risky initiatives

Whether it’s a farm shop owner deciding to diversify from ice creams into frozen yoghurts, or a government minister backing a multi-billion pound transport link, the initial decision to go ahead is filled with risk. We do not know what will happen if we go ahead and we do not have control of the outcomes.

Sometimes the outcomes will be pleasantly surprising, and other times just as we thought most likely. But many other occasions they are disappointing. With transport infrastructure projects, for example, research shows that disappointment is the most likely outcome. Historically, the gap between expectation and reality has varied by type of project and the same can be said for other business initiatives, but still disappointment remains the norm.

This is an extract from the Business & Management Magazine, Issue 247, October 2016.

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