When things don't go right

I am a Peter Drucker fan, so it was never going to be too long before some of his business thinking would make an appearance here... Drucker was fully aware that change is inevitable, like it or not: "A theory of the business always becomes obsolete when an organisation attains its original objectives". That’s why he advised use of abandonment - meaning that every three years you should challenge every product, service, policy and distribution channel with the question, "If we were not in it already, would we be going into it now?" - the self-same question that led to the revolution at GE. But Drucker adds three more queries, which I think are simple but very powerful in helping us analyse undertakings which did not go to plan:

"Why didn’t this work, even though it looked so promising when we went into it five years ago?"

• Is it because we made a mistake?

• Is it because we did the wrong things?

• Or is it because the right things didn’t work?

Drucker also insisted that preventing collapse required studying the customers - and, very important, the non-customers: "The first signs of fundamental change rarely appear within one’s own organisation or among one’s own customers"

When things don't go right