When we remodeled our homes some years back, we decided that the most expensive words known to man were, “While we’re at it. . . .” In doing the research for our book, though, we realized that the words, “Well, we have to do something,” have caused far more damage.

Executives convince themselves that, no matter what, they have to achieve some stock-price goal, some market-share goal, some profit goal. So, they lay out a strategy that might work and roll the dice, even when the odds are stacked against them. In other words, they take what they think is their best bet even though an objective review would show they aren’t making a good bet. Often, they lose.

Sometimes, they lose billions—making us feel a bit better about those bad thousand-dollar decisions we made while remodeling.

We’ve updated “Perfecting the Art of the Deal,” a working paper that applies our research to potential mergers and acquisitions. Read the introduction below and click to download the entire article in PDF form.

While our whole premise for this blog and the book that spawned it is that too few people try to learn lessons from failure, there are a few books that have looked at specific kinds of failure and teased out the lessons. Some of these books are well worth reading. We’ll highlight some in this […]