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How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In
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How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  7,872 ratings  ·  363 reviews
Decline can be avoided.

Decline can be detected.

Decline can be reversed.

Amidst the desolate landscape of fallen great companies, Jim Collins began to wonder: How do the mighty fall? Can decline be detected early and avoided? How far can a company fall before the path toward doom becomes inevitable and unshakable? How can companies reverse course?

In How the Mighty Fall, Coll
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by JimCollins (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  7,872 ratings  ·  363 reviews

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Jan 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book came across less as a useful tool for avoiding disaster and more as a defense of why so many of the companies profiled in Good to Great failed (answer: they stopped following Collins' advice!) Additionally, Collins gives no data to support his assertions, relying solely on anecdotes and assurances that he has the data and has looked at it.

The biggest flaw is that he's essentially doing a post-mortem risk assessment on these firms, looking at each risk in a vacuum. Unfortunately, risks
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Like his prior research, Jim Collins looked at several companies and their direct comparisons to identify commonalities shared by the failing companies that were not present in the comparison (successful) companies.

Study companies (those that succumbed to the five stages of decline):
Ames Department Stores
Bank of America (before it was acquired by NationsBank)
Circuit City
Hewlett-Packard (HP)
Scott Paper

5 Stages of Decline

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
MsSmartiePants the candy...
Worthy of my trademarked award: SO GOOD, I'M READING IT TWICE!(tm) ;)

THE WORLD MAKES SENSE! This and other thoughts flooded my mind after finishing Jim Collins latest literary release. Concise and timely, the information applies to business as well as our personal lives!

I differ with another critics' premise that Mr. Collins' claims that "companies get into trouble because they overreach..."etc. That is NOT what Mr. Collins' found to happen first. There first is an arrogance, "hubris", which cr
Sadie-jane (Say-dee-Jane) Nunis

Even the Greatest Can Fail

THE Good to Great storyteller, Mr Jim Collins is back with How the Mighty Fall. Many great companies, even those that have lasted generations have fallen in recent years. This made Mr Collins question how and why it happens. More importantly, is there any way that companies can avoid the path of doom and gloom?

In his latest, he confronts these questions and gives an optimistic spin to leaders who may find themselves in a downward
Chris Rock
Mar 31, 2014 added it
Shelves: business
Well, I finally came across a business book that I actually liked. That's saying something.

Collins starts things off well by expressing his level of uncertainty in these studies (which he doesn't emphasize as much in his previous books, which is why it was harder to take them as seriously). But Collins has matured in his writing (perhaps, in part, because of the failure of some of the companies showcased in his book Good to Great) and I find this new, writing style much more compelling.

My favori
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I love Jim Collins books. This book was written between two of his major two books (Good to Great followed by Great by Choice). I heard Collins speak at a conference and he explained how it struck him that he could pop out this book in the middle of the other big research projects he was working on. The book talks about the trajectory of company's that fail (some that save them selves and other do not). I have seen this trajectory many times (or parts of it) and it rang very true to me and was a ...more
Jeff Yoak
I never cease to be amazed at how awesome Collins' books are. In How The Mighty Fall, he addresses the patterns evident in great companies when they fall, and how those patterns might be identified and reversed early. ...more
Tat Tso
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finished in one seating. Great book with many cautionary tales and an optimistic outlook.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you’re particularly interested in detecting decline and reversing it before it’s too late, this book is for you.
Trung Nguyen Dang
I dont think I've liked any Jim Collins book, despite his books are in my field of interest (business). It always lack the rigor or the indepth study. The author admit upfront that there is no way to conduct a proper study with control group because there is no way to repeat the same experiment and keeping every factors constant. This book is again not an exception. And it's probably worse than his other books because this book is born out of one of his extended article/research, which gets leng ...more
Farhan Khalid
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
What happened to Kodak and Nokia?

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

I’ve concluded that there are more ways to fall than to become great

The failure of successful businesses isn’t due to the changing economic climate or bad luck, but to their leaders who steer them in the wrong direction and exacerbate crises through mismanagement

Whether failures or successes, these companies reflect the humanity of their leaders – and so does yours

We are not imprisoned by
Mukul Kumar
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well explained along with the case study which seems to have been prepared after a lot of research.
Ekkirala Vikramaditya
Essential guidebook on pitfalls and plunders. Analytical and insightful
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a great gift in a small package and represents, in my view, the best of Collin's serial strong efforts. In a word, this book is fantastic. Why? Because it's conslusions are as piercingly insightful as always, but this book offers something new as well - it's wisdom works on both the institutional/organizational level and on the personal level. In other words, it's one of the few "business" books that's just as applicable and powerful a tool in a personal context.

In this book, rather than
Jeffrey Williams
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought I was going to be disappointed when Jim Collins mentioned in his introduction that this was originally supposed to be the size of a magazine article and not a large expanded book. After reading it, I believe he hit a proverbial home run. The size is perfect for the content.

As I write this review, Toys R Us has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is facing liquidation while General Electric, with a new CEO, is trying to recover. These two companies were in the forefront of my mind when
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent look at how companies can fall from greatness to non-existence -- and what can be done to resurrect the company, if caught in time. As with Collins' other books, he draws on thorough research and presents his conclusions simply and compellingly.

In addition to leadership/management nerds, this book would be of interest to anyone interested in "success" or "failure" writ large, as many of Collins' conclusions are transferable outside of business to life: your church group, s
Jose Miranda-alvarez
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A fantastic follow up to "Good To Great".

Jim Collins explains in this book how no company is impervious to failure - especially those that at one point become great.

The study in this books shows how an attitude of arrogance born out of previous success, combined with the loss of discipline in decision-making are the key for any success story to turn into a case study of failure.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins, the author of other business books like Good to Great, Built to Last, etc…

In this book Mr. Collins nicely describes the 5 phases of decline for a company:

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3: Denial for Risk and Peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

He reviews companies that have passed through these phases, and attempted to turn it around
Wes F
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Another insightful business book by Jim Collins, with a focus on the causes behind great companies who have fallen--some into non-existence, some into bankruptcy, some into irrelevance, some into the history books of ignominy. I gave this book 3-1/2 stars in my Reading Log; it's really an extended research paper--clocking in at only 123 real pgs. (then another 100 pgs of Appendices). How do the mighty/great--former giants of business--fall? 1) Hubris born from success, 2) Undisciplined pursuit o ...more
Vivek Gupta
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting cautionary tale from the author who wrote “Good to Great” & “Built to Last”.

Jim Collins’ “How the mighty fail ...” is a look at some industry stalwarts and research into what did them in. Based on researching the fall of companies like Ames, HP, Merck, Motorola, Rubbermaid, Zenith and others, Jim comes up 5 stages of decline : Hubris Born of Success => Undisciplined pursuit of more => Denial of Risk => Grasping for Salvation => Capitulation to irrelevance.

It’s a well researched b
Paige S
Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was my first dive into Collins' work. This was an interesting read as too often we focus on how companies are successful versus what led to their decline. There were times that this work was presented as an "apology" of sorts for reviewing now defunct companies in his previous works. Alas, that is the cycle of business: some are great and some fall.

The work outlined what should be the obvious five states of decline but are qualities I think we so often overlook. Success-induced hubris can
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A company is a dynamic thing. It is always changing and not always changing for the good.
It's a book that uses about a third of the pages for appendixes and notes, also it gives a summary of his other book in the appendixes.
His theme is his own hedgehog concept: be extremely disciplined in all aspects, be grounded, willing to be boring but has to be solid. It is really nice that his books are around those major ideas.
I like Collins' perspective that the root cause of the company's failure sho
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not a business graduate nor do I own a business, but reading about it did add to my existing perspectives. The references will obviously make more sense to a person who is in the respective field, but you sure can apply the same principles to anything that you are currently working on. Jim Collins creates space for life lessons among those meant for growing or in this case, saving a company.

This would be a great read for someone starting out as an entrepreneur, someone who has been in the
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
After Turning the FlyWheel, this is my second Jim Collins book. Basically he had a look on the performance of companies and selected 11 good and bad ones which are identical in terms of playing in the same market. Then Collins puts 5 stages where companies pass through their death. Actually I liked the way he is analyzing companies and for me the study is based on a bunch of data which is carefully selected. Nearly half of the book consists of data and the other half explaining 5 stages of decli ...more
Rayfes Mondal
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't read many business books but this was mentioned in another book I was reading. It's pretty short but it was interesting to hear more about companies that I have some familiarity with professionally like Texas Instruments, HP, and Motorola along with household names like Circuit City losing to Best Buy, Xerox making it through their down period, Bank of America, and trusty old Zenith. The 5 stages he posits are:

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3:
Ayush Lakhotia
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Was impressed by the title but frankly do not have a clear answer on why this book was written. The author had done around 6 years of research for writing this book but I felt it was just a bunch of case studies on how companies have fallen , the reason might be different, in some it was an external CEO coming in trying to change values and culture, in some it was random experimentation in new product lines and in a few it was inability to cope up with a more innovative competition.
One bright l
Laura Elizabeth
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
• Are we destined to fall too?
• Amadeo Giovanni—Bank of America story is awesome.
• 5 stages of decline:
o Hubris born of success (Pride, too confident and take things for granted)
o Undisciplined Pursuit of More: (Overconfident in areas its not ready to compete in)
o Denial of Risk and Peril: (Leaders over look concerns, reorganizations)
o Grasping for Salvation: (jump to quick fixes and die, rebuild returning to fundamentals)
o Resignation to Downfall: (Longer at stage 4 = death; either give up and
Shawn Harvey
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great synopsis on how companies lose focus and stave to fix something while missing the mark. A must read for anyone trying to turn around a situation.
If you cannot marshal a compelling answer to the question, "What would be lost, and how would the world be worse off, if we cease to exist?" then perhaps capitulation is the wise path. But if you have a clear and inspired purpose built upon solid core values, then the noble course may be to fight on, to reverse decline, and to try to rekindle gre
Emil Bredahl
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finished this fantastic book written by #jimcollins and it was amazing. Well written and sooooo informative ❤️ I got so much out of it and i want to STRONGLY recommend it. I have seen how it looks when the powerful falls and its not pretty. This book presents these issues that most companies face of will face if they are not aware and willing to change. Loved it and i give it highest grades ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ #jimcollins
Mahdi Farahikia
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-reads
This is an on-point and quick read with enlightening ideas on how the too-great-to-fail businesses can crumple just because their leadership refused to acknowledge the signs of their demise. Going through the five stages of failure, this is an excellent learning tools for anyone who either seeks to start a business or is eager to know how not to fail in personal life. Failure can be a pathway to success and so it is really helpful to learn from the failure stories of big heads and their bouncing ...more
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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, wh

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“Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.” 41 likes
“I’ve come to see institutional decline like a staged disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages, easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside,” 0 likes
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