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Is there such a thing as an ‘Out of Control’ company?

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| 13 May, 2016 | 0 Comments

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Is there such a thing as an ‘out of control’ company? defines ‘out of control’ as:

Not under management or direction; unmanageable or wild.

The first term uses control in the sense of “restraint,” a usage dating from the late 1500s; the variant ‘out of hand’ uses hand in the sense of “power” or “authority,” and dates from the late 1800s.

We know that forest fires, debts, children and even budgets can reach the stage of being ‘out of control’ but what about companies?

Well, perhaps they can and in most cases restraint, or a lack of, appears to be the key.

Think back to some of the high profile business failures of the very recent past:

  • Enron – lack of restraint demonstrated by the board
  • Baring Bank’s rogue trader – unrestrained trading

And then think of ‘power’ or ‘authority’ and how abuse of power is evident in ‘out of control’ companies.

  • RBS – abuse of power and unrestrained expansion into toxic lending
  • Companies providing essential commodities such as oil or electricity – they can hold clients and suppliers to ransom.

So what are the other symptoms of an ‘out of control’ company? I would suggest, amongst others, narcissistic management, constant change and moving from plan A, to B to ultimately C. The impact internally is high staff turnover, staff going on strike, departments not working together and the organisation experiencing difficulty in attracting the right talent to take the business forward. Externally, the impact can be devastating for any clients or supply chain having to cope with cancellations, constant change and delays, lack of communications and interminable waiting.

Do they care?

Not really, although now in the world of social media ‘out of control’ companies risk the business community noticing and talking about them in less than flattering terms which can cause enough reputational damage to result in a lack of trust and performance at best and closure at worst.

Know any ‘out of control’ companies? Spread the word.

Filed Under: Climate and Culture, Risk


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