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How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In

Jim Collins

Retail Price: $23.99
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Format: Hardcover, 240pp.
ISBN: 9780977326419
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Pub. Date: May 19, 2009

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Decline can be avoided.
Decline can be detected.
Decline can be reversed.

Amidst the desolate landscape of fallen great companies, Jim Collins began to wonder: How do the mighty fall? Can decline be detected early and avoided? How far can a company fall before the path toward doom becomes inevitable and unshakable? How can companies reverse course?

In How the Mighty Fall, Collins confronts these questions, offering leaders the well-founded hope that they can learn how to stave off decline and, if they find themselves falling, reverse their course. Collin’s research project—more than four years in duration—uncovered five step-wise stages of decline:

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Stages of Decline

By understanding these stages of decline, leaders can substantially reduce their chances of falling all the way to the bottom.

Great companies can stumble, badly, and recover.

Every installation, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. There is no law of nature that the most powerful will inevitable remain at the top. Anyone can fall and most eventually do. But, as Collin’s research emphasizes, some companies do indeed recover—in some cases, coming back even stronger—even after having crashed into the depths of Stage 4.

Decline, it turns out, is largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lies largely within our own hands. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our history, or even our staggering defeats along the way. As long as we never get entirely knocked out of the game, hope always remains. The mighty can fall, but they can often rise again.

Picking up where Good to Great and Built to Last left off, bestselling author Jim Collins introduces a framework for diagnosing and correcting a company’s decline.

Good to Great and Built to Last identified the distinguishing characteristics shared by companies that not only achieved greatness, but also sustained it. In How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins considers the "dark side," offering a perspective on how a fall from greatness can happen -- to even the seemingly invincible. Adapting the very methodology that established Good to Great as a landmark, How the Mighty Fall shows that every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline, but recovery is possible. In some cases, companies emerge stronger -- even after having crashed into the depths of a near-catastrophic fall. Collins presents a framework that will help business leaders and companies identify the "silent creep of impending doom" and swiftly set a correction course. Rigorous in its analysis, surprising in its findings, How the Mighty Fall is an in-depth look at the decline of some of our nation’s greatest companies and a useful tool for companies and individuals seeking to avoid such a fate. Themes from How the Mighty Fall:
  • Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.
  • An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall.
  • The signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty, but the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before...As long as you never get entirely knocked out of the game, hope always remains.

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About the Author

Jim Collins is a student of companies -- great ones, good ones, weak ones, failed ones -- from young start-ups to venerable sesquicentenarians. The author of the national bestseller Good to Great, he serves as a teacher to leaders throughout the corporate and social sectors. His work has been featured in Fortune, Business Week, The Economist, USA Today, and Harvard Business Review.

Table of Contents

The Silent Creep of Impending Doom1
Five Stages of Decline13
Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success27
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More45
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril65
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation85
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death103
Well-Founded Hope113
Appendices and Notes125

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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer • A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great
Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them


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