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Too Good To Fail?

Book Description


‘This book is a must for anyone interested in improving their management skills.’

 Chris Green, Former Chief Executive, Virgin Trains


‘A rare combination of general principles and concrete advice. Wholeheartedly recommended.’

Professor Alison Wolf CBE, Director of Public Services Policy and Management, King’s College, London


‘A very wise and reflective book. Valuable lessons for every senior manager in every organisation.’

Professor Daniel T. Jones, author of Lean Thinking



Business leaders the world over are hardwired to focus on success. But what if understanding failure is the real secret behind enduring performance?


In Too Good To Fail?, Jan Filochowski turns his twenty years’ experience as a CEO and turnaround specialist into practical advice for business managers. 


Covering what failure looks like, how to cure it and – most importantly – how to avoid it altogether, this book is your essential roadmap to enduring business success.  Turnaround specialist Jan Filochowski shows you how to identify and overcome potential business problems and achieve sustained long-term success.


Too Good To Fail? tackles the big questions:

What does failure look like?

What are the warning signs?

How do you turn performance around?

What management skills do you need to succeed?


Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Contents
  4. About the author
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Foreword
  7. Introduction
  8. Part 1 Understanding failure
    1. 1 Mentioning the unmentionable
      1. What failure looks like
      2. The omnipresence of failure
      3. Measuring success and failure
      4. Misrepresenting success and failure
      5. The infectiousness of failure
    2. 2 The pattern of failure: the Yosemite curve
      1. Phase 1: Struggle
      2. Phase 2: Denial
      3. Phase 3: Freefall
      4. Phase 4: Rock bottom
      5. Phase 5: Recovery
      6. Phase 6: Consolidation
    3. 3 Other types of failure
      1. Total failure: the Niagara drop
      2. Shallow failure: the Panama Canal passage
      3. Broadening failure: the Grand Canyon
  9. Part 2 Avoiding failure
    1. 4 Passive warning signs
      1. Ignorance
      2. Certainty
      3. Complacency
    2. 5 Active alarm bells
      1. Obsession
      2. Manipulation
      3. Evasion
    3. 6 The cultural litmus test
      1. A reckless culture
      2. A culture of false reassurance
      3. A culture of gaming
      4. A culture of control
  10. Part 3 Curing failure
    1. 7 Regaining confidence
      1. Talking to staff
      2. Reaching outside
      3. Responding
      4. Retaining momentum
      5. Trumpeting success
    2. 8 Getting back in control
      1. Digging till you find the cause
      2. Tackling immediate problems
      3. Rebuilding the mechanisms for managing
      4. Unlocking the organisation
  11. Part 4 Succeeding
    1. 9 The opposite of failure
      1. Five key ideas
      2. Adapting
      3. Giving and receiving feedback
      4. Managing relentlessly
    2. 10 The importance of being honest
      1. The unbreakable triangle
      2. Honesty
      3. Passivity and fatalism
      4. Risk management and failure
      5. Understanding processes
      6. Redesigning to solve problems
    3. 11 Mining the data
      1. The devil is in the detail
      2. Finding the kernel of truth
      3. Approximating
      4. Using information for performance management
      5. Turning the world upside down
    4. 12 Fault tolerance, randomness and pattern
      1. Living with imperfection
      2. Managing the unknown
      3. Turning randomness into patterns
      4. Talent or luck?
    5. 13 Gauging the environment
      1. Horizon scanning
      2. Rule changes
      3. Togetherness and partnership
    6. 14 The attentive manager
      1. Dividing problems to tackle them
      2. Being attentive
      3. Elucidation
      4. Restricting your priorities
      5. Understanding what is important
    7. 15 Final thoughts
      1. Is success down to the individual or the approach?
      2. Management or leadership?
      3. Managing to lead
      4. Good at being imperfect
  12. Appendix: A personal account
  13. Index
  14. Imprint