When Don Keough died in 2015, many of the obits mentioned his book, The Ten Commandments of Business Failure. I thought, “What a great title!” There are so many books that tell you how to succeed and so many books about being a great leader. This sounded like something different.
I knew something about Keough’s career and reputation and I figured that he was just the sort of person to write a book like this. He had a reputation for being practical, unassuming, and plainspoken. So I bought the book. It was a great decision.
The Ten Commandments of Business Failure was one of the best books I read in 2015. It’s an honest and straightforward book about basic business values. The “Commandments” are only part of what you’ll get from the book. Here’s a list
- Quit taking risks
- Be Inflexible
- Isolate Yourself
- Assume Infallibility
- Play the Game Close to the Foul Line
- Don’t Take Time to Think
- Put All Your Faith in Experts and Outside Consultants
- Love your Bureaucracy
- Send Mixed Messages
- Be Afraid of the Future
The commandments are the skeleton of the book. The meat on those bones are the stories and examples. If you’re an experienced manager, you’ll recognize many of the examples. If you’re younger or new to business, you may not know about some of the business history Keough describes. Either way you’ll like the straightforward analysis and lessons.
Oh yes, there are actually eleven commandments. The bonus commandment for business failure is: “Lose your passion for work, for life”
This a quick and delightful read. It’s also a book that dresses up truth and good advice in simple clothes, and a book you’ll return to again and again.