Monday 9 May 2011, 01:01
I have a secret concern about the Business Nightmares programme. I worry that you'll enjoy it too much.
I worry that you'll revel in the stupidity of the mistakes, laugh at the businesses involved and idly sit back, comfortable in the knowledge that you would never be as daft.
Of course, I can see why you might react that way and I'm not saying that I don't want you to enjoy the programme at all. And I certainly don't want to suggest that it doesn't have its laugh-out-loud moments.
It's just that I don't want Business Nightmares to make you all feel smug about the failings of business.
If there is a reason why most of us would not make mistakes on the scale of the characters in the programme, it is simply that most of us don't make complex decisions like the people in the programme.
We don't create companies, launch new products or devise marketing campaigns.
When most of us make mistakes they tend to be rather routine. Whether we be journalists or dentists, filing clerks or mechanics, we err all the time and rectify (or ignore) our mistakes as we discover them.
But for those in business, it is different.
They live in a world governed by gods that are particularly creative.
Gods that hate to make life regular, that enjoy playing with the unpredictable and that like to challenge the brave.
So when we see people in business fail, we must always ask whether they deserve respect rather than derision.
For example, in the three-part series of Business Nightmares, some of the nightmares are simply genuinely difficult situations that no amount of clever handling could resolve.
What exactly would you have done if you were running Polaroid when digital cameras came along?
We feature gambles that were taken perfectly reasonably, but which didn't happen to pay off in the end. The Rabbit phone seemed like an awfully good idea when mobile phones were beyond the reach of ordinary people, but is easily ridiculed now.
And we tell the stories of what I call "good" mistakes - those which result from trying to be ambitious and original. Boo.com was ambitiously ahead of its time but at least it wasn't stuck in the past.
Of course, there are a few straightforward bad mistakes too: the genuine howlers that prompt one to ask, "What were they thinking?"
Royal Bank of Scotland's takeover of ABN Amro as a banking crisis broke in 2007 comes to mind. But there are fewer of those than you would think.
So here's my tip in watching the programme. Laugh at the funny bits. Revel in the mistakes. But laugh with the protagonists not at them.
And be inspired by them to take a few risks of your own, to be ambitious and to move outside your comfort zone to the arenas of life where error is inevitable.
For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.
Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.
Join the discussion...
Friday 6 May 2011, 10:06
Wednesday 11 May 2011, 09:54