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Summary

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. Collins' 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

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 institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. There is no law of nature that the most powerful will inevitably remain at the top. Anyone can fall and most eventually do. But, as Collins' 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.

©2009 Jim Collins (P)2009 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"A new Jim Collins book is an event... he is tackling 'how the mighty fall'. It is a good moment to ask how and why this happens... Perhaps the subject matter has got to him. Perhaps Collins has matured. Whatever the reason, the tone of this book is a little more measured, and the claims slightly more nuanced, than in his previous blockbusters... Although short, this is an extremely useful book. It cannot tell the complete story of why businesses fail but there are enough sharp insights to make for a thought-provoking read." ( The Financial Times)
"An enjoyable (story), and destined to do well. Collins keeps the pace up, and he�s the master of blending interesting personal details about the protagonists with the big-picture changes their companies are going through. There are plenty of thoughtful analogies, and key insights are conveniently summarised..."( Management Today)
"Collins has packed an exceedingly timely punch with his latest, which looks at how titans crash and burn seemingly from nowhere... the take-home message is that decline is often self-inflicted, and therefore it is possible both to prevent it and to reverse it. This book is bang on the money in terms of message and timing."( The City AM)

What members say

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Very useful and not too long

Unlike similar titles this doesn't seem too long. It is ok to listen to at 1.5x speed. Very interesting case studies and evidence. Useful.

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Business bible

Jim Collins has helped me to build my business right from the beginning and learn from others mistakes.

The research was immense and the guidance seems to fit almost any type of business.

This is a must read -

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-06-12

Great but short...

Short book in comparison to Collins' other works...nonetheless an interesting and worthwhile listen! I always acquire new insights from his book. Lookout for the concept of 'hubris' in this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wim
  • 23-11-09

Informative

Well researched and pratical. Very good book

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kenneth
  • 17-09-09

Great insight and nice to know

Great to know what signs to look for when the mighty falls. A reading that brings a new perspective, where most other literature focuses on analyzing firms on the way up, rather than looking back on what went wrong. Signs on stage 4 in the 5 point decline model illustrate some key element in poor management as I see it