Case Stories

When Success Leads to Failure

14. When success leads to failure

This story is true, but names and details have been changed to protect anonymity.

“I don’t understand why we crush it here but are getting crushed everywhere else,” said the exasperated co-founder of a local cult brand. It had already failed and pulled out of one expansion market and was failing in another. “Same model, same people, same procedures—heck, we don’t even have to advertise here. But everywhere else…” her voice trailed off in discouragement.

It was a sensitive moment. The answer wasn’t obvious to us at the time, either, but we spotted a clue in her tone. For decades, she had never known anything but success, which meant she never had to fully explore what worked and what didn’t. As long as revenue kept growing, introspection didn’t have to.

Fortunately, she was able to recognize the need to look at her operation through the eyes of people in new markets who were taking it all in for the first time. And she was stunned by what they saw—and didn’t see. It opened her eyes to what she needed to do, no longer taking anything for granted.

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