Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spectacular Failures: Case Studies of Business Implosions

For those of us who are avid multitaskers and prefer to consume our media aurally, podcasts are a great source not only of entertaining content but also new and valuable information. It can be intimidating to jump in on a long-running podcast with potentially hundreds of episodes, so I’d like to highlight a shorter series consisting of twenty standalone episodes: Spectacular Failures.

This podcast by American Public Media and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota examines one corporate catastrophe in each episode, taking an irreverent but educational approach to documenting each business’s rise and fall. Many episodes trace the collapses and scandals of corporate giants such as Pan Am and Forever 21, but others examine events involving smaller, more local businesses, such as the Los Angeles-based restaurant Squirl’s moldy jam scandal that went viral in 2020. The “spectacular failures” covered in the podcast range in date from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 to the current state of the NYC taxi industry, illuminating key points in the history of American business over the past century.

It is eternally fascinating to hear about the missteps committed by business over the years with the benefit of hindsight. Episodes feature interviews with people who were involved with the businesses or who later studied them, providing interesting insights and perspectives on the business. Each case study provides valuable lessons in how (or how not) to conduct business and to deal with failure, which will be of use to business owners at every stage of growth.

Unfortunately, Spectacular Failures hasn’t released a new episode since 2020, so the supply of episodes is limited. However, if business-related podcasts are up your alley, we have featured a string of podcast recommendations on the EntreVIEW blog in the past, so there are plenty of good options out there.

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