In the article “The Seven Ways to Fail Big” it came to my attention that directors and executives need to be very methodical and cautious when considering growth strategies. The articles highlight seven common business failures and how to avoid falling victim to them. According to this article a designate devil’s advocates, people who with no stake in the decision, should ask tough questions to the company. While this suggestion is excellent, I do wonder how many CEOs and executives actually make this a practice within their company especially since many companies still seem to making the same old mistakes. For example, Quaker Oats committed the mistake of Synergy Mirage, when they brought Snapple in 1994. Quaker never too the time to understand Snapple’s distributor and end up selling Snapple three years later. Another example is, BlockBuster who choose to stay the course, and stick to their business model despite the consumer’s changing demand in entertainment. Blockbuster went bankruptcy, and was bought out of bankruptcy by satellite television provider DISH.1
The word “Devil’s Advocate” sometimes comes with negative connotations; however; I feel that would add tremendous value to the company and could potentially prevent them from losing millions. The Devil’s advocate is seen as a person who challenges the norm, and shuts down ideas. However instead they should be viewed positively as drawing attention to new possibilities. In order for this process to exist there needs to be transparency and open communication between all levels of the company which is not always the culture. I would suggest the company organizing a panel and defining unambiguous parameters for the scope and designate people as devil’s advocate. Ultimately this would allow for open communication and all argument of the proposed growth strategy to be stated.
1. 1 http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/05/16/lessons-from-three-big-business-failures/