'The Ten Commandments for Business Failure' by Donald R. Keough (The Penguin Group, 2008)

This is a different kind of business book. Unlike most others, it doesn't pontificate. It makes its points by providing real-life examples of how businesses go off track.

This is a different kind of business book. Unlike most others, it doesn't pontificate. It makes its points by providing real-life examples of how businesses go off track. Time after time, Keough teaches a lesson – frequently one that is or should be obvious – and it's actually enjoyable. Careful selection of anecdotes and quotes drive home the points that reflect Keough's extensive experience and impact on one of the world's most iconic products as former CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Reading the book is an experience akin to a face-to-face chat with the author – candid, succinct, and spot on target.

What Keough writes is what PR pros should be telling employers and clients. While communications plays an important role in the creation of attitudes, it's behavior – how a company treats its employees, serves its customers, rewards its stockholders – that really counts. In sum, Keough's book makes the clear argument that a company can't talk the talk unless it walks the walk. To be a successful business, you've got to deliver on your promises. It's not like a politician running for public office making all manner of claims and promises to get elected; companies and brands succeed only when their promises are fulfilled.

Actually, Keough's “commandments” are a useful and positive road map for executives who want to succeed. Also, there aren't many surprises among them: 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 outside experts and consultants; love your bureaucracy; send mixed messages; be afraid of the future. And for an encore, an eleventh commandment: Lose your passion for work, for life.

Unlike most business books, this one is actually fun to read. It abounds with business anecdotes and quotations, and its writing is good enough to make any one of us envious. It reflects the wit and spontaneity of a man who, when a reporter asked, “Didn't you really plan for New Coke to fail?” responded, “We weren't that dumb and we weren't that smart.”

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.