Re: How would you describe this knowledge failure? #question #strategy #culture

Tim Powell

Thanks, Tom, this book looks interesting.


You remind me that there’s a significant body of literature on failures in general, and specifically intelligence/knowledge failures, in both war and business.  (The discipline of competitive intelligence, where I have worked extensively, largely consists of applying lessons from the former to problems of the latter.) 


Most of my books are in my warehouse following a recent office downsize – so, sadly, I can no longer look over and see them.   But one that I keep near is




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From: <> on behalf of Tom Short <tshortconsulting@...>
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Date: Friday, January 14, 2022 at 1:54 PM
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Subject: Re: [SIKM] How would you describe this knowledge failure? #strategy #culture #question


Two thoughts:

1. My first work in management consulting was in org development. Kathleen Dannemiller was my mentor and the founder of the boutique I would eventually start working for. She used to talk about the inflexibility that large corporations experience as they get complacent and become rigid. Her turn of phrase for this was organizational arthritis. Kathie died many years ago, but her legacy is carried on by my former colleague and housemate, Bob "Jake" Jacobs. He wrote about Kathie's approaches and this concept in particular in his first book, Real Time Strategic Change. You can read an excerpt from it on google books here

2. The book Military Misfortunes by Cohen and Gooch may provide some clues. The authors analyze failures in war, mining the historical record for material and then analyzing an actual failure that took place on the battlefield. The book is broken up into chapters for each of the different types of failures they identified:

- Failure to Learn
- Failure to Anticipate
- Failure to Adapt
- Aggregate Failure
- Catastrophic Failure
Although the scope and scale of these types of failures in a war setting are vastly different from what goes on in companies, I think it's pretty clear just based on those chapter titles that there are a lot of similarities at the causal level. Might be another source of insight for your work. 


Tom Short Consulting
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