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How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In Hardcover – May 19, 2009


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How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In + Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All + Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: JimCollins; 1 edition (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977326411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977326419
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Collins is author or coauthor of six books that have sold in total more than ten million copies worldwide, including the bestsellers Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. He now operates a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research, teaches, and consults with executives from the corporate and social sectors.


More About the Author

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has authored or co-authored four books, including the classic BUILT TO LAST, a fixture on the Business Week best seller list for more than six years, and has been translated into 29 languages. His work has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company.

Jim's most recent book, GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & And Others Don't attained long-running positions on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week best seller lists, has sold 3 million hardcover copies since publication and has been translated into 35 languages, including such languages as Latvian, Mongolian and Vietnamese.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors. Jim holds degrees in business administration and mathematical sciences from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at over a hundred corporations. He has also worked with social sector organizations, such as: Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps. In 2005 he published a monograph: Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made one-day ascents of the North Face of Half Dome and the Nose route on the South Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. He continues to climb at the 5.13 grade.

Customer Reviews

I read this book in a weekend, and he laid it out very clearly.
M. K. Vanags
This is the third in the series of books from Dr. Jim Collins: Built To Last, Good To Great, and now How The Mighty Fall.
Craig T. Owens
Recommended Reading for all Entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Jesper Jurcenoks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

434 of 480 people found the following review helpful By T. Sull on May 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me preface this review by saying that I am a fan of Collins' earlier work. Built to Last was a great book, and Good to Great was very good. How the Mighty Fall, however, is neither. The issue of corporate failure is critical, particularly in the current downturn. Unfortunately, the core of Collins' analysis in this book is flawed.

How the Mighty Fall addresses two related questions: Why do good companies fail? and how does management respond once a company gets into trouble? Collins introduces a five stage model to answer these questions, where steps one and two address the roots of corporate failure and steps three through five managements' response.

Collins' analysis of management response to decline--denial of risk, grasping for salvation, and capitulation to irrelevance or death--accurately describe how leaders respond to deterioration in their business. This analysis here is solid, the writing clear, and the tempo brisk. Collins does a particularly good job of describing dysfunctional leadership behaviors of companies is in decline.

Collins' analysis of why companies get into trouble in the first place is much less compelling. Companies fail, according to Collins, when success breeds managerial hubris, which leads to overreach and ultimately failure. Like many of Collins' findings, this makes intuitive sense. Unfortunately in this case, his core argument runs counter to research on hundreds of companies, conducted over decades by dozens of scholars. There are two major flaws in Collins argument.

First, he claims that companies get into trouble because they overreach and expand beyond their core. This is consistent with data showing that diversified companies trade at a discount to focused rivals.
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82 of 96 people found the following review helpful By S. Durocher on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One thing that strikes me about Jim Collins' work is that he is passionate about what he does. He and his researchers dig down deep into companies and examine them from different perspectives over a period of time. As he says, "We do not decide which companies we 'want' to study... we lay out the criteria for the study-set selection before we see the data and systematically eliminate companies from consideration based on whether they meet the criteria." This has given him great insight into what success is, not just for corporations, but for any institution.

What comes through in his recent book, along with passionate study, is honesty. Collins previously chose Fannie Mae as a "Good to Great" institution. Recently, they have demonstrated anything but greatness in facing economic and marketplace changes. There are other companies he chose, like Circuit City, that have gone the same path. Collins discusses why these enterprises were chosen in his previous book and why they fell on hard times after once being great. Because a great company stumbles into mediocrity does not mean the criteria is flawed or the framework wrong. Rather, as the study shows, somewhere along the way these companies strayed away from what once made them great. "How the Mighty Fall" uses the same criteria from "Good to Great," only in reverse, to show how and why once great enterprises have fallen. Collins does this with the same attention to detail and passion as in his previous works.

There are a couple of parts that I found most interesting from the book. First is the chapter entitled "The Undisciplined Pursuit of More." The examples of Ames and Rubbermaid, along with the other ideas presented in this chapter, really hit home in light of recent developments in our financial markets.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By dzr242 on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge Jim Collins fan. I really believe that Good to Great helped my company in many different ways. This book had some great information in it, but it could have been done in an article in a magazine. There is just not enough substance to fill an entire book. What is there is really important, but not much of it. In fact it seems like half of the book is appendix. I guess after Good to Great I expected more.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." -- Genesis 11:4

How the Mighty Fall takes a methodology similar to Built to Last and Good to Great and searches for differences among paired companies (Loser--Winner; A&P--Kroger; Addressograph--Pitney Bowes; Ames--Wal-Mart; Bank of America--Wells Fargo; Circuit City--Best Buy; Hewlett Packard--IBM; Merck--Johnson & Johnson; Motorola--Texas Instruments; Rubbermaid--None qualified; Scott Paper--Kimberly-Clark; and Zenith--Motorola) As you can see, it all makes for strange bedfellows (Motorola is on both sides of the divide and Rubbermaid doesn't have a winning comparison partner). As before, the analysis relies on public information from that period (such as annual reports, business journalism articles, and analyst reports).

From these data, Jim Collins discerns the following taxonomy of stages:

1. Hubris (excess pride) due to prior success
2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
3. Denial of risk and peril
4. Grasping for salvation
5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death

Reaching any one of these stages doesn't mean that stage 5 is inevitable in Collins' view.

The result is more like a monograph than a full business book with limited examples and observations. Many readers will find themselves hungering for more.

I was grateful to Mr. Collins for the excellent way that he defined and described his cases. As a result, I was able to look into what he was measuring to see what else might be there.

I had the good fortune to work with most of these companies as a consultant either just before or during the measurement period.
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