How The Mighty Fall


Jim Collins

Elevator Pitch – From the man that who wrote the book on how to be a great organization, this is how to screw it up. Or rather, how not to.

Favorite Quotes:

1. “When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up to fall.” (PAGE 21)

2. “I’ve concluded that there are more ways to fall than to become great. Assembling a data-driven framework of decline proved harder than constructing a data-driven framework for ascent.” (PAGE 19)

3. “Never give in. Be willing to change tactics, but never give up your core purpose. Be willing to kill failed business ideas,… but never give up on the idea of building a great company.” (PAGE 123)


Finally getting to this one. Read this last Christmas, but just writing down my thoughts…

This is a good book to read after you have read Good to Great. To be honest, it is my least favorite Jim Collins book, but that is like talking about your least favorite Beatles song, or your least favorite scotch. It is still good stuff and well made.

While it is his most academic, and philosophical book, which makes it one of the harder to read, I love the concept of this book and love when he wrote it. This was the natural follow up to Good to Great, a book focused on a relentless pursuit of greatness. The most memorable part of this book is the lack of awareness or lack of honesty that Collins says is all too often in these falling companies. This lack of awareness leads to what Collins calls an “undisciplined pursuit of more.” It is natural when you have overcome so many obstacles and “arrived” to think you are unstoppable. All the more so for small businesses when you have to almost trick yourself into thinking you can take any hill, and yet not become detached from reality.

I think the most interesting part of this concept is that so often, and remember this is backed by years of research into the financial statements of these companies, this pursuit is for so long the proof of your success. It is the very thing that has made you successful, and yet leads to beginning of the downfall. It is however, not the hunger that he says leads to decline, but the over-extension that this hubris allows, or demands rather that causes this fall. It is a challenge to remain driven, yet grounded. Something that I think must come from a community or peers and from a level of trust for your team to be honest with you.

If you have ever felt a plateau in your business, this is your book. Give it a read, fairly quick and short if you have read other Collins work. Check it out.

Great video from Collins about the book.