Why do Organisations Fail – Do we Know the Signs and Can we Read Them?

2 June 2021

12.30 - 18.30

Haberdashers' Hall

Why do companies fail? What is it that makes a successful business go from hero to zero in such a relatively short space of time? Of course, businesses disappear – as their business models become no longer relevant. It’s part of the natural process of renewal and innovation. Yet what still surprises us is the speed at which some outwardly successful businesses suddenly collapse. A quarter of a century’s corporate governance reform seems to have made little difference. The shock of corporate catastrophes like Wirecard in Germany and Carillion in the UK still make headlines.

The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic is seeing the most difficult trading conditions many companies have ever experienced. Yet even here, some companies have fared better than others in the same sector. Many of the economic pressures that were present
before the pandemic are still with us and most forecasters believe it will take another four years to recover from the economic damage. Businesses are still grappling with the implications of changes in customer, employee and investor attitudes brought about by the pandemic. Consequently, more companies will come under pressure and more will be at risk of failure.

There are some factors about which we can do nothing. Yet there are others over which we have greater control, which we still don’t manage as well as we might. The reasons are many and varied, ranging from dishonesty, incompetence and managerial hubris to lack of basic strategic and operational expertise or straightforward financial control. Whilst we might think ‘it could never happen to us’, all too often it does!

Chaired by Margaret Heffernan, author of Wilful Blindness, this PARC half-day conference aims to:
• Provide a warning as to what happens when important management disciplines are not followed.
• Help people to recognise early warning signs and anticipate threats to the business before they become critical.
• Create a learning opportunity to give us the benefit of profiting from the mistakes of others.

Our panel of speakers will provide insights from their various fields of expertise helping us to:
• Spot the signs of impending trouble
• Optimise our processes and project management skills
• Understand the legal framework in which businesses operate
• And, overall, improve our corporate decision-making.