Tuesday, September 08, 2009


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This article contains references and hyperlinks to an article which was originally published in THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter (September, 2009, Week 1) by Featured Columnist Douglas Castle.

Dear Colleagues:

My brief +/- 140-character broadcast on Twitter read as follows:

"Passion fuels a business, but an emotional attachment to a bad decision can undo it all. Douglas Castle http://twitlik.com/Sunk  #TNNW " Please read the article, and give me your candid feedback.

The article is titled "Don't Keep Watering a Dead Tree," and it deals with a problem that I have seen in virtually every professional career and in every business. We have a very Human propensity to start a business out of passion (not unlike adolescent infatuation), and then to mess things up in increments, over time, by making bad decisions and continuing to support them. My favorite example was a software development company client which had spent well over its budget on a particular type of packaged program that was already becoming obsolete in the marketplace. Demand for the product, which was not quite complete, was diminishing daily as the market turned toward a different technology.

Despite this knowledge, the directors of the company, all very good technical programmers, were obsessed with "seeing the project through." [not unlike deciding to go to the beach after it has begun to drizzle because you'd already packed your cooler] 

They not only failed to cut their losses, but they continued to overspend their budget and neglect their core business. They were in Chapter 11 six months later. This is extremely common. My questions for the Group are:

1.     How do we increase our own awareness of this tendency?
2.     How do we differentiate between a "loss" and an "opportunity-in-progress?"
3.     Is it helpful to create a rule (i.e., a budget) which absolutely limits time and money on any project, regardless of how "close" we feel that we are getting to victory?
4.     What are some of the excuses that we use to justify throwing good money after bad?
5.     Many people believe that most businesses fail because of inadequate capitalization. Is it possible that an even greater percentage fail because of reluctance to acknowledge mistakes and change course?

I would truly appreciate your insights as well as your review of the article.

Thank you.


Douglas Castle


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