When I Make My Biggest Business Mistakes

As you probably can guess, I am spurred to write this post as I finally and forever bury the last traces of one of my larger business mistakes (which means that hopefully, the last of the restructuring charges are behind me).  I believe there is one constant element that permeates most of my major business mistakes:

My greatest mistakes have been made when I allow someone else's enthusiasm to overcome my rational business judgement.

I don't claim that this is everyone's problem, just mine.  I will say that the one thing about business disasters that follow a pattern is that it becomes easier to spot and avoid this pattern in the future.

Postscript:  I will add that I think this problem is a common feature of politics.  I personally fell into this trap with my initial support of the Iraq war, and I think a lot of others would say the same.  I feel like I avoided this trap with Obama.  In some sense, the political process has always used enthusiasm, or fear, or shame, or some other emotion to overcome the public's rational hesitation to have the government doing any number of things.  The Iowa caucus process is practically designed to allow group enthusiasm to trump people's rational voting intentions.


  1. Thane_Eichenauer:

    I am sure that Scott Adams would agree with you.

  2. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    Without emotions we are only robots (or at best - Spock). Would we be happier without emotions that cause us to make the wrong decisions occasionally? Oops, happier? Without emotions I guess we would never know if we made the right or wrong decision? Trial and error - works every time - at least at some level of repetition.

  3. smcg51:

    I decided some time ago to offer enthusiastic employees, with wonderful business ideas, a chance to become an equity partner (at any level) in the proposed venture - on the understanding that it would not proceed if they didn't. Problem solved - 0 percent uptake.

  4. irandom419:

    But they did find radioactive materials under the Euphrates River in Iraq, so he was right. It was in one of the released documents and one of the inspectors was going around to news organizations talking about it.

  5. obloodyhell:

    Warren is trolling us, again, most likely.

    He's done that a lot lately.

  6. obloodyhell:

    LOL, send me an application :-D

  7. Bram:

    My biggest mistakes are always assumptions. Assuming other people have the same goals, reasoning, etc...

    I fell into that trap with my initial enthusiasm for the war in Afghanistan, They had much to answer for - so they got Rangers, Paratroopers, and Green Berets to answer to. I thought it was a magnificent raid - and we would go home within a year. I assumed we would never be so stupid as to make the same mistake the Russians did - and try to permanently occupy and nation-build in that dump.

  8. GoneWithTheWind:

    The Iraq war wouldn't have been necessary if Clinton enforced the truce agreement with Saddam.
    Was there WMD's in Iraq? No doubt, of course there were. Most perhaps in the process of being made as opposed weapons ready to be released on the world. There was 550 tons of yellow cake. There were endless, 24/7 streams of trucks for months (the same months that Germany, France and Russia delayed the invasion) headed to the Bakaa Valley to hide the WMDs (or hide something). Constant flights from Russia with transport planes to remove Russia's equipment and contribution to Saddam's WMDs. Once the job was done Germany, France and Russia stopped stonewalling the UN and Bush was allowed to invade and found no (well a little) WMDs. Should they have invaded? We don't really know, do we. We can't know what would have happened with an emboldened Saddam if we had instead invaded his neighbors. We don't know if the invasion of Iraq actually saved American lives or not. We don't know because whatever would have happened if Saddam had stayed in power did not happen.