Corporations are people, too. Not in the sense that the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United, when it allowed corporations the free speech rights accorded to citizens. No, I am referring to business obituaries. Dead companies, like dead people, enjoy the same euphemistic language treatment.
Few of us die these days. Visit any online memorial site or read a newspaper obituary and you’ll see. For the most part, we pass away. Some of us succumb to an illness; others are victims of fatal accidents. With the passing of time, our friends may even raise a glass and say that we cashed in our chips, bought the farm, met our maker, kicked the bucket or, bit the dust. I get it. Indirect language helps us deal with the pain and permanence of death.
I just don’t understand why we speak of corporate failures in a similar manner.
My informal survey of business executives suggests that corporations don’t fail (read: die). They may fold, go under, even shut down. At times, they persevere on institutional life-support by downsizing, restructuring, or filing for bankruptcy protection. More frequently, they muddle on while suffering from strategy malaise or “me-too” product syndrome. As reported, it’s mostly passive stuff. Companies and, by default, their managers never actively fail.
For the mathematically inclined this should come as no surprise. If one were to total the cost savings and increased profits detailed in every LinkedIn profile the result would be staggering; with all that “found” money floating around, how could companies not succeed?
In all seriousness, one can learn a great deal by analyzing company failures . . . but only if we recognize them as such. What good is a quality system that never identifies a rejected part? There can be no corrective action without a nonconformity. The same measure applies to companies. Especially start-ups and small businesses.
So, do your part; help a startup. Describe a failure as a failure. Let weasel words die.
Digital Artist + Marketer | Business Consultant | Startups + Small Businesses.
Specialties – Web Design | Digital Marketing | E-Commerce | Business Plan and Financial Modelling
Hans van Putten owner of 40parkLane,llc ran operations of his food manufacturing company for 17+ years building the Carolyn’s Handmade brand under the umbrella of 40ParkLane,llc.
After the successful sale of the food business, he took advantage of the years of strategic planning, operations management, web design, digital marketing and photography experience , to help startups, small businesses and home businesses and has been involved in a number of start-up ventures since.
Prior to founding 40parkLane,llc Hans worked for the Gillette Company for 10 years in various financial roles of increasingly bigger responsibility, leaving as Director of Business Planning for The International Group at Gillette HQ, Boston. Hans has an MBA (Marketing & International Business) from Aston University, and a BA in Business Administration from IHBO de Maere.