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Seduced by Success: How the Best Companies Survive the 9 Traps of Winning Hardcover – March 7, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0071481830 ISBN-10: 0071481834 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (March 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071481834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071481830
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Conversations about companies' "best practices" and "whodunitgood" have a flaw. There is more than a 50-50 chance that those companies cited as best-in-class won't make the list two years later. Herbold, former COO of Microsoft, is guilty not only of that issue but also of an overreliance on secondary research and an overfamiliarity with Microsoft and Procter & Gamble. Certainly, the latter is to be commended; P&G is a paragon of innovation, although Microsoft, insist a number of industry pundits, needs to overcome its 800-pound gorilla attitude. In essence, Herbold itemizes the nine deadliest sins of success, from neglect to confusion, and then evaluates antidotes and keys to sustainability. He points to Toyota and Fidelity, for instance, as leaders in reapplying what works, and to Southwest Airlines and GE as the masters of clarity, simplicity, and repetition. Other than some outdated examples, there's one more hitch: the author doesn't listen to his own advice to keep it simple. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Back Cover

Praise for

Seduced by Success

“Bob Herbold gets to the heart of why successful organizations and individuals often go into a tailspin, and how this can be avoided. His thorough reviews of specific companies we all know make this a very useful book, and I highly recommend it.”-Indra K.Nooyi, President & CEO, PepsiCo, Inc.

“This book rings painfully true….Bob Herbold demonstrates with clinical precision that a company's fall from grace can frequently be traced back to its time of greatest achievement. Before you get too depressed, however, take heart-he also gives you all the tools you need to avoid that ignominious fate.”-Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer, WPP Group PLC

“It's very instructive to read the detailed case studies showing how some successful companies lose their way, while others remain successful. Through these rich examples, Bob Herbold shows how to sustain success.”-Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman, DBS Group Holdings/DBS Bank, Asia

“Seldom do you find a book with as many powerful, useful reminders that help you face up to reality and deal with problems. I strongly urge you to read it.”-Grant L. Kelley, Principal & CEO, Colony Capital Asia


More About the Author

Robert J. Herbold

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (Retired), Microsoft Corporation

Managing Director, Herbold Group, LLC


Robert J. (Bob) Herbold, retired executive vice president and chief operating officer of Microsoft Corporation, is the Managing Director of The Herbold Group, LLC, a consulting business focused on profitability, strategic, and operational issues. Herbold is also serves on the Board of Directors of Agilent Technologies and of Neptune Orient Shipping Lines.

Herbold joined Microsoft in 1994 as executive vice president and chief operating officer, retiring in 2001. During his tenure in that position, he was responsible for finance, corporate marketing, market research, manufacturing and distribution, information systems, human resources, and public relations. During his 7 years as COO, Microsoft experienced a four fold increase in revenue and a seven fold increase in profits. From 2001 to 2003, Herbold worked half-time for Microsoft as Executive Vice President assisting in government, industry, and customer issues.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Herbold spent 26 years at The Procter & Gamble Company. In his last 5 years with P&G, he served as senior vice president of advertising and information services. In that role, he was responsible for the company's worldwide marketing/brand management operations as well as all marketing related services such as media and retail promotion programs. He was also responsible for the worldwide information technology and market research organizations.

Herbold's experiences at Microsoft and Procter & Gamble were the basis of an article he authored in the January, 2002 issue of the Harvard Business Review entitled "Inside Microsoft: Balancing Discipline and Creativity", which focuses on how companies can improve their profitability and agility. In 2004 he authored a book published by Random House titled The Fiefdom Syndrome; The Turf Battles that Undermine Careers and Companies - and How to Overcome Them. In 2007 his second book was published by McGraw Hill titled: Seduced by Success; How the Best Companies Survive the 9 Traps of Winning. In February, 2011 his latest book was published by John Wiley & Sons titled: What's Holding You Back; Ten Bold Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders.

Herbold has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati and both a master's degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Case Western Reserve University. Herbold is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Heritage Foundation and is an Adjunct Professor in the Business School at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is also the President of The Herbold Foundation, which is primarily focused on providing college scholarships to science and engineering students.



Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
To me, one of the most interesting paradigm shifts involves a paradox: at a time when change is the only constant, precisely the same elements which result in a given company's success can often be the causes of its subsequent decline. That seems to be the core concept in this book in which Robert J. Herbold explains "how the best companies survive the 9 traps of winning." Conversely, many other of the best companies (however "best" may be defined) do not. The traps that Herbold identifies and examines are among the usual suspects whenever a company goes (invoking Jim Collins' terms) "from great to good" or "from good to mediocre":

1. Sticking with yesterday's business model

2. Allowing your products [or services] to become outdated

3. Clinging to your once-successful branding after it becomes stale and dull

4. Ignoring your business processes as they become cumbersome ands complicated

5. Rationalizing your loss of speed and agility

6. Condoning poor performance and letting your star employees languish

7. Getting lulled into a culture of comfort, casualness, and confidence

8. Not confronting turf wars, infighting, and obstructionists

9. Unwittingly providing schizophrenic communications

Of course, falling into and then remaining in any one of these "traps" can have serious, perhaps even fatal consequences. Moreover, failing companies are usually caught in several (if not most) of the nine. Finally, even if a given company escapes from one or more of them, there is no guarantee that it will not falling into one or more later.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dennis DeWilde on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To present his list of the nine traps of success, former Microsoft executive Herbold uses a series of mini case studies to demonstrate the failures (which might all be summarized as leadership complacency) and to support his recommendations for correcting, which are summarized in the final chapter as the maintenance of a questioning attitude. The result is a book that is easy to review, but one which may leave the reader questioning its applicability.

Giving points for simplicity of structure, this book gets high marks. The seven, plus two, deadly sins are each the subject of nine separate sections, bookended by an opening discussion on the seduction of success, and the key to seduction avoidance in the last chapter. The nine traps are simple statements of failure to stay vigilant in pursuit of excellence:
1. Neglect: Sticking with yesterday's business model
2. Pride: Allowing your products to become outdated
3. Boredom: Clinging to your once-successful branding after it becomes stale and dull
4. Complexity: ignoring your business processes as they become cumbersome and complicated
5. Bloat: Rationalizing your loss of sped and agility
6. Mediocrity: Condoning poor performance and letting your star employees languish
7. Lethargy: Getting lulled into a culture of comfort, casualness, and confidence
8. Timidity: Not confronting turf wars, infighting, and obstructionists
9. Confusion: Unwittingly providing schizophrenic communications

However, simplicity is a double-edged sword, and overly generalized solutions are seldom useful. On a comparative basis, I preferred James Kilts' book, "Doing What Matters", both as a read and as an instructive manuscript.

Dennis DeWilde, author of
"The Performance Connection"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Casey Hamar on October 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Herbold once again demonstrates his understanding business leadership in Seduced by Success. The former COO of Microsoft and VP of Marketing from P&G reveals the pitfalls of success and what businesses need in order to stay great.

Success can be blinding. General Motors, Kodak and IBM are examples of top companies that embraced their hubris nature and paid the price of complacency.

The nine biggest success traps include:

Neglect: Sticking with yesterday's business model
Pride: Letting products and services become second rate
Boredom: Clinging to your once successful branding
Complexity: Letting processes run the business
Bloat: Losing agility
Mediocrity: Allowing sub par performance to persist
Lethargy: Nurturing a retirement home culture
Timidity: Permitting turf battles and infighting
Vagueness: Schizophrenic communication
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jaroslav Snajdr on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved Bob Herbold's first book, The Fiefdom Syndrome. It had a very specific topic and was full of interesting ideas, observations and author's personal experiences from Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, and from his consulting practice.

Seduced by Success is not nearly as good. It lacks any strong unifying theme and the "traps" it describes are quite obvious and uninteresting. There is little deep thinking and, frankly, most of the text are digested Fortune articles about various companies.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Irma Yuhainis on April 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well researched and insightful book. I highly recommend it.

The author, who was Microsoft's COO for 7 years in the mid-late 1990's, analyzes 44 different companies, digging into whether they were able to sustain success. The reader learns why companies like Kodak, Sony, GM, and many others have had so much trouble remaining successful, while companies liked Toyota, Starbucks, P&G, and Fidelity Investments have been capable of sustaining their success. The author also reviews some companies, like Porsche, Harley Davidson, Apple, and Harrah's, that were successful, fell into some of the traps that success generates, and then fixed their problems and recovered. These rich and detailed examples are really fun to read, because there are tons of quotes from the business press on what was going on in these companies.

The basis of this book is a powerful and very important observation by the author: "Success is a huge business vulnerability. It can destroy and organization's or an individual's ability to understand the need for change and can also destroy the motivation to creatively attack the status quo."

He then goes on to explain the three human behaviors that cause this to happen and the nine business traps these behaviors generate. For each of the traps, several examples of specific companies are analyzed, and key lessons are emphasized.

Reading this book is like taking a terrific leadership and management course. It is powerful.
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