Paul Ormerod - Why Most Things Fail


“Gales of creative destruction” – Schumpeter

World Book Day today. And I have no shortage of books on failure. They are a regular gift item and recommendation from friends and fans of this blog. The one I just finished is Paul Ormond’s “Why Most Things Fail”. It’s less about the dynamics or process of embracing failure and more about the imperative of embracing failure…

  • “Failure is all around us. Failure is pervasive. Failure is everywhere, across time, across place and across different aspects of life. 99.99% of all biological species which have ever existed are now extinct…More than 10% of all companies in America disappear each year…From biological species to companies to government policies, there appears to be an Iron Law of Failure which is extremely difficult to break.”

Ormond recognises that failure is all about risk and he makes an effective delineation between “risk” and “uncertainty”…

  • “Uncertainty in its strictest sense, refers to situations in which the probability of various outcomes is itself unknown” (eg. flipping a coin is not ‘uncertainty’, but the chance of an alien visit from outer space is).