Review of How The Mighty Fall

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How The Mighty Fall book summary

Rating

9 Overall

9 Applicability

9 Innovation

8 Style

Review

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last, studies companies. His well-researched insights and counterintuitive analyses of corporate success and failure have made him a consistently best-selling author. Collins’s dictums for sound corporate policy apply to large and small businesses, even start-ups and nonprofits. He understands the rhythms of how businesses rise and fall. And he understands the dominant role that human emotions and ego play even in the most technologically aware companies. Collins’s consistent message is: Whether failures or successes, these companies reflect the humanity of their leaders – and so does yours.

Collins wrote How The Mighty Fall prior to the 2008 economic meltdown. He published the book shortly after, in 2009. In his preface, he addresses the meltdown of seemingly impervious firms like Lehman Brothers. He explains that he didn’t foresee the implosion of some firms, while it was clear to him that others faced a dire future. The corporations that fared the worst during the economic collapse all followed the exact downward arc he describes in this book. Each chapter ends with a handy summary of its main points. The book itself concludes with almost 100 pages of notes and appendices, which offer a more detailed deconstruction of various companies’ avoidable self-destruction. While compelling, perhaps, for business students, the appendices are less-insightful than the main text.

Collins is a calm, direct writer with a gift for breaking down complex corporate dynamics into clear, comprehensible lessons. His books are rare but welcome postmortems. Their foremost qualities are their readability and the clarity of their advice. His signals of failure and level-headed prescriptions for success are such common wisdom now it’s easy to forget how innovative this book was when it first appeared. getAbstract recommends this classic to all organizational leaders, as well as to business students and professors.

About the Author

Jim Collins also wrote Good to Great and co-wrote Built to Last, among other titles. He’s been featured in Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Economist, USA Today and Harvard Business Review.

 

The author offers the following lessons and highlights:

1. Diagnose and treat your organization’s problems as early as possible.

The question “How would you know?” motivated Collins to write this book. He first asked it as the mystery of unexpected disaster struck his family when his apparently healthy wife was found to have cancer. This led him to compare corporate failure to “a staged disease” – hard to “detect,” but easier to cure in the beginning stages, and much more difficult to stop later on.

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