How the mighty fall

Jim Collins is an author and speaker I greatly admire.  In tackling some of the trickiest question regarding organisations and leadership he does not simply come up with his own pet ideas, but instead researches and trawls through huge amounts of data looking for patterns and answers.  In his book, How the mighty fall, he explores what happens to successful organisations who subsequently fail.  It turns out there is a pattern summarised by five stages:

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
  3. Denial of risk or peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death

The real benefit of this research is of course not the ability to understand what has happened to others, but to look for similar patterns in our own organisations.  It can be challenging for a leader to examine their own organisation and begin to spot some of the signs.

Recognising the signs early can be hugely helpful and enable us to turn things around.  However, the research showed that turn around was even possible when in stage 4.

How are the organisations with which you are involved doing?  Do any of the stages above seem familiar?

To find out more, including some great case studies and also full descriptions of each stage, check out Jim Collins’ book.

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

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