Creative Leadership

Why Organizations Fail

In my opinion, what may be the book of the year is Jim Collin’s new effort called:  “How the Mighty Fall.”  It’s a brilliant and in-depth look at 5 key stages an organization goes through as they fail:

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

As I read the book it was a like Collins did a Vulcan Mind Meld on some of the client meetings I’ve had over the years.  Churches, ministries, media organizations, businesses – this is a blueprint on the journey from success to failure, and how to recognize the signs.

Read this book.  If you take the message to heart, it’s like an inoculation against the hubris, pride, and arrogance that comes with success.  The kind of pride that blinds you to leaks in the hull that eventually sink the ship.  I have literally begged former clients to pay attention to these warning signs and I wish I’d had this book back then to give them.

Have you had similar experiences with clients or employers?

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  1. This book sounds like gold. I’ve recently made the decision to create and maintain a set of financial reports (balance sheet, cash flow statement, and profit and loss) for my own personal household. I’m doing this out the realisation that much of the advice given by my parents generation is simply based on hubris, and has in fact created the housing bubble. Failure to ignore what are the real drivers of growth, failure to challenge long held beliefs and “mother hood statements” is a recipe for disaster. Actually the term “mother hood statement” is an offence to mothers – we need to invent a new lexicon.

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