How the Mighty Fall is a short book that questions why great companies fall and offers business leaders lessons for detecting and reversing collapse. With data collected from prior research studies consisting of more than six thousand years of combined corporate history, Collins explains what we learn by studying the contrast between success and failure.
Collins says, “The best leaders we’ve studied never presume that they’ve reached the ultimate understanding of all the factors that brought them success. For one thing, they retain a somewhat irrational fear that perhaps their success stems in large part from luck or fortuitous circumstance.”
He goes on to say, “Like inquisitive scientists, the best corporate leaders we’ve researched remain students of their work, relentlessly asking questions – why, why, why? – and have an incurable compulsion to vacuum the brains of people they meet.” I like the analogy of an “inquisitive scientist.”
On things taking time…
Collins says that great leaders understand building an organisation requires a series of intelligent, well-executed actions that add up one on top of another.
“We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our setbacks, our history, our mistakes, or even staggering defeats along the way. We are freed by our choices.”
“Don’t try come up with the right answers; focus on coming up with good questions.”
The first line of the novel Anna Karenina is, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Packard’s Law: if a great company consistently grows revenues faster than it ability to get enough of the right people to implement the growth, it will not simply stagnate; it will fall.
Winston Churchill attended Harrow, a private boys school in England.