Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If Only

What other "If Only..." moments have we seen?

"In 1997 we were working with IBM on electronic music distribution and could have put this out five years earlier [than iPod]. But we couldn't get our people to understand software. And we are a music company. They saw digital media, panicked and didn't like it."

-- Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Sony, ponders what might have been (Hat Tip to GMSV)

There are the personal ones. The ones we examine in moments of quiet repose. The ones where we say "If Only....." Then say "Yeah But...." Hopefully we follow it with a "Next Time...." and learn from our experiences.

In business, we do this all the time. We make plans, examine the future, the possibilities, the competition and see opportunity. We next build the Business Case. We have to clarify and quantify why this opportunity represents a realistic chance of reward worthy of the risks. This must be sold to the organization, management, the Board of Directors, the engineers, marketing, sales, etc.. Wading through the morass of negativity is hard. Fighting the entrenched who are set in their ways and looking towards retirement is hard. 10,000 cuts, suggestions, alterations, amendments and delays will doom the project. Opportunity exists only for a brief time. Situations evolve and competition moves faster so that the Business Case may be invalid by the time the funding is approved... It's the rare manager who will finally win the funding but then turn back because events are no longer right and success for the opportunity has diminished.

We spend much of our life planning for failure. We are ready for catastrophe at any moment. We do not plan for success in the same degree. Success is a bet on the Roulette Table. Failure is a mangy dog that roams the neighborhood looking for someone to bite...

On the whole, things go better than they fail. We are successful in more of our activities than times when we fail. Yet, we ignore the good and anticipate the bad... Hard wired? Do optimists die younger?

It is hard for people to look past the -Worst Case- and see the -Most Likely-.

No comments: