Book Review: Breaking Failure

    By: Teresa Jurgens-Kowal, PhD, NPDP on Dec 17, 2015

    Breaking Failure:  How to Break the Cycle of Business Failure and Underperformance Using Root Cause, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, and an Early Warning System, Alexander Edsel.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  FT Press, 2015. 221+ xviii pages.  US$44.99

    f2.pngIn “Breaking Failure”, author Alexander Edsel has created a rich story that removes the mystery surrounding product success and failure, offering a refreshing blend of street wisdom and classical theory to apply problem-solving techniques from other disciplines into the crazy world of marketing and product management.

    Edsel starts by showing the difficulty of transferring a proven technique from one domain to another. He then unveils a framework to identify the distinct components that enable domain transference in the arc of product development, launch, and management.  Key to success is recognition of the blind spots that often prevent success. This book looks at why these blind spots occur with different disciplines and professions, with a focus on product effectiveness. Identifying useful techniques from other domains and applying them to a different discipline is a simple yet transformational act that can yield ROI (return on investment) than any of the incremental optimizations performed by companies. The positive potential is further compounded by the revenue and margin impact possible in product lifecycle processes.

    The author contributes to the body of knowledge by avoiding the easy path of glorifying the product launch process as a star stock picker, and instead focuses on success through failure mitigation. He employs the fields of statistics and analytics, along with proven product effectiveness frameworks like the Stage-Gate™ concept. It is especially important to apply these failure mitigation techniques to areas like advertising, human resources, sales, strategy, and product management.

    The premise of this book can be boiled down to three observations. Most failures and underperformance are due to the following:  error-prone thinking and decision making, voids in the domain transfer of proven techniques, and a deficient or inconsistent knowledge base.

    “Breaking Failure” proves to be both practical and actionable, steering clear of complex, expensive solutions and software. The techniques presented are used by millions of professionals and can be applied through a relatively simple spreadsheet. Even the early warning systems can be simplified for quick implementation, and the root cause and failure mode analysis can be quickly executed.

    –Jeff Kavanaugh, Sr. Partner, Infosys Consulting

    Released: December 17, 2015, 9:25 am
    Keywords: PDMA Blog

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