10 Dumb Decisions That Lead to Foolish Failure

All failures aren’t the same.

4 components of responsible failure:

  1. Preparation.
  2. Good intentions.
  3. Considered decisions.
  4. Maximum effort that doesn’t succeed.

Leaders who punish responsible failure never exceed the glory of the past. 

Leaders who tolerate irresponsible failure squander talent, resources, and opportunity.


In praise of failure:

If you aren’t failing once in awhile you’ve accepted the status quo. If you aren’t falling short, you aren’t reaching high enough.

Honor your talent by stretching it. Occasional failure is inevitable for all who stretch themselves.

10 dumb decisions that lead to foolish failure:

  1. Choosing an all or nothing approach when stakes are high, results are public, and options are limited.
  2. Quickly closing your mind to alternative viewpoints and constructive dissent.
  3. Moving forward without exploring how decisions impact others.
  4. Choosing to disregard patterns of poor performance. Be frustrated with yourself, not others, when you’ve tolerated patterns of poor performance.
  5. Ignoring tough conversation in the hopes that difficult issues will resolve themselves. Step back if there’s progress. Step in if the room is full of ostriches.
  6. Failure to prepare, including procrastination.
  7. Using, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’ as reason to keep doing the same thing.
  8. Failing to explore contingencies. It’s irresponsible failure when you didn’t consider what might go wrong.
  9. Choosing to repeat plans or strategies that failed the first time. Failing once is a learning opportunity. Failing the same way twice – in the same way – is neglect, laziness, or lack of self-respect.
  10. Throwing untested managers into the deep end of the pool and walking away.

Don’t validate dumb decisions by saying everyone makes mistakes.

Learn from mistakes and move forward. However, dumb decisions – from those who know better – call for accountability, commitment, and improvement.

What dumb decisions lead to foolish failure?

What are the marks of responsible failure?