Author(s): Jan Filochowski
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.
"This book shows that failure is not such a frightening term after all and will help both established and aspiring managers to cope when things go wrong, as they will do, and to get out of trouble. Drawing on first-hand experience and using real examples from many arenas it is a compelling read, full of wisdom and sound advice." Developing Leaders Magazine "a practical manual and guidebook acting as a distillation of hard won wisdom in the NHS at a senior level." Roger Steer, NHS Managers.net "Having managed organisations in all states from failing to world-leading, Filochowski was inspired to write about the patterns he identified which occur when things were going wrong. If left unchecked, his book argues, simple problems can multiply until they result in total failure. Too Good to Fail? covers the full spectrum of failure from minor mistakes to complete systemic collapse." Sarah Johnson, Guardian Professional, August 2013
Jan Filochowski is the CEO of Great Ormond Street Hospital. He has spent over 35 years in healthcare-related management, the first 10 as a policymaker in government and the next 25 running large organisations - mainly hospitals - interspersed with periods in academia and as a turnaround specialist and trouble-shooter in the National Health Service. As a trouble-shooter, he worked with 30 to 40 organisations who were in difficulty or in deep failure. He has helped diagnose the root causes of their problems and guided them back to organisational health and achievement. During his practitioner career, Jan has also been a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and an NHS University Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School.
Acknowledgements About the author Introduction PART ONE: UNDERSTANDING FAILURE Chapter 1 - Mentioning the Unmentionable - What failure looks like - The omnipresence of failure - Measuring success and failure - Misrepresenting success and failure - The infectiousness of failure Chapter 2 - The Pattern of Failure: The Yosemite Curve - Phase 1: Struggle - Phase 2: Denial - Phase 3: Freefall - Phase 4: Rock Bottom - Phase 5: Recovery - Phase 6: Consolidation Chapter 3 - Other Types of Failure - Total failure - the Niagara drop - Shallow failure: the frying pan - Broadening failure: the Grand Canyon PART TWO: AVOIDING FAILURE Chapter 4 - Passive Warning Signs - Ignorance - Certainty - Complacency Chapter 5 - Active Alarm bells - Obsession - Manipulation - Evasion Chapter 6 - The cultural litmus test - A reckless culture? - A culture of false reassurance? - A culture of gaming? - A culture of control? PART THREE: CURING FAILURE Chapter 7 - Regaining confidence - Talking to staff - Reaching outside - Responding - Retaining Momentum - Trumpeting success Chapter 8 - Getting back in control - Digging till you find the cause - Tackling immediate problems - Rebuilding the mechanisms for managing - Unlocking the organisation PART FOUR: SUCCEEDING Chapter 9 - The opposite of failure - Adapting - Giving and getting feedback - Managing relentlessly Chapter 10 - The importance of being honest - The unbreakable triangle - Passivity and fatalism - Risk management and failure - Understanding process - Redesigning to solve Chapter 11 - Mining the data - The devil is in the detail - Finding the kernel of truth - Approximating - Using information for performance management - Turning the world upside down Chapter 12 - Fault tolerance, randomness and pattern - Living with imperfection - Managing the unknown - Randomness and pattern - Spikiness - Talent or luck? Chapter 13 - Gauging the environment - Horizon scanning - Rule changes - Togetherness and partnership Chapter 14 - The attentive manager - Dividing to grasp - Being attentive - Elucidation - Restricting your priorities - Understanding what is important Final thoughts - Is success down to the individual or the approach? - Management or leadership? - Managing to lead - Good at being imperfect Appendix: A Personal Account Index