Thursday, July 21, 2005

Why most things fail

I should have known better.I understand from a Reuters' message datelined 19th inst.that the Professional Association of Teachers,London has clarified that there is nothing called 'failure'.It is all 'deferred success'.--Srivarahan"K.R.Srivarahan" wrote:"Why most things fail:Evolution,Extinction and Economics" is a book written by Paul Ormerod and first published in March this year by Faber & Faber.He is a former Head of the Economic Assessment Unit at The Economist.His earlier books include 'The Death of Economics' and 'Butterfly Economics'.Irrelevance of mainstream economic theories is the common theme of these books.The writing in the latest book is a (AH)Kalroesque combination of rigorous reasoning and unambiguous statements.There is no reference to cliches like 'Murphy's Law' and Icarus Paradox though they are apparently appropriate to the title.The book reasons why as many as 10% of American companies vanish every year.It explains the causes for failure of public policies (plans to promote integration,ameliorate poverty,reduce inequality,enhance social mobility etc.).Though brief (255 pages),the book's coverage is comprehensive including game theory,bounded rationality,Slim-Fast vs.the Atkins diet,Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi,how the success of Windows is more accidental than planned,etc.(The New York Times commented in 1985,"Running Windows in 512 K of memory is akin to pouring molasses in the Arctic.The product is essentially useless."Comments of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in 1988 are even more surprising.Bill Gates:"OS/2,designed by IBM and Microsoft will be the environment for office computing in the 1990s".Steve Ballmer:"We are not going to have any more Windows.It is all OS/2".)Interesting parallels are drawn between extinction of biological species and closure of business firms.