How the Mighty Fall Book Summary - How the Mighty Fall Book explained in key points
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How the Mighty Fall summary

Jim Collins

And Why Some Companies Never Give In

4.5 (116 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins is a business book that explains the five stages of decline experienced by once great companies. It provides insightful advice on how to avoid failure and recover from it.

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    How the Mighty Fall
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    Every company and institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline.

    In the first few centuries after the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire dominated Europe and the Middle East. It was massive, stretching from Portugal in the West to Iran in the East. Among those alive back then, there would have been no doubt: this gigantic, all-powerful empire would last forever. Alas, it did not: within just a few centuries it was gone, banished to the trash heap of history.

    The decline of the Roman Empire shows that, no matter how vast or successful something is, it will always be in danger of collapsing.

    But what causes decline? What can make a huge entity come crashing down?

    The decline of a large organization is always self-inflicted: collapse isn’t the fault of outside factors or bad luck; it’s the direct result of mismanagement.

    Remember how everybody had a Nokia phone 15 years ago?

    In the years since, the company has gone from being the market leader to having a mere 3 percent market share. Why?

    While their competitors, such as Apple and Samsung, were researching and innovating in smartphone technology, Nokia’s management decided to innovate in other, less profitable areas. Thus, when smartphones became popular, Nokia was completely out of the race.

    At this point, it’s important to point out that we’re not talking about laziness. Successful firms very rarely collapse because they fail to act: usually it’s because they act in the wrong way. In fact, failing firms often show very high levels of innovation and energy.

    Bank of America is a great example of this: in the 1980s, the bank was eager to update outmoded practices. They hired a young, energetic CEO, they closed huge swathes of loss-making branches and they ended the practice of hiring people for life. Yet throughout this period, the company posted some of the most spectacular losses in banking history.

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    What is How the Mighty Fall about?

    In How the Mighty Fall, influential business expert Jim Collins explores how even successful companies can suddenly collapse, especially if they make the wrong decisions. He also offers leaders advice to prevent them from making the same mistakes.

    How the Mighty Fall Review

    How the Mighty Fall (2009) by Jim Collins explores the stages of decline that can lead once-great companies to their downfall. Here's why this book is a valuable read:

    • It provides a clear framework for recognizing the warning signs of decline and taking action to prevent it.
    • The book uses real-life case studies to illustrate each stage of decline, making it both compelling and applicable to a variety of industries.
    • Through its insightful analysis and practical suggestions, the book sparks critical thinking and prompts readers to evaluate their own organizations' vulnerabilities.

    Best quote from How the Mighty Fall

    Motorola fell from being the #1 cell phone maker in the world to only having 17 percent share by 1999.

    —Jim Collins
    example alt text

    Who should read How the Mighty Fall?

    • Students majoring in business
    • Anyone unsure which businesses to invest in
    • Start-up CEOs looking to grow their business long term

    About the Author

    Jim Collins is a best-selling business expert and author, having written the highly successful works Good to Great and Built to Last. He contributes to Harvard Business Review, Fortune and Businessweek, and he advises business leaders in the social and corporate sectors.

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    How the Mighty Fall FAQs 

    What is the main message of How the Mighty Fall?

    The main message of How the Mighty Fall is understanding the stages of decline to prevent organizational failure.

    How long does it take to read How the Mighty Fall?

    The reading time for How the Mighty Fall varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How the Mighty Fall a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How the Mighty Fall is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in learning from the failures of great companies.

    Who is the author of How the Mighty Fall?

    Jim Collins is the author of How the Mighty Fall.

    What to read after How the Mighty Fall?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How the Mighty Fall, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
    • Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier
    • Built to Last by Jim Collins
    • ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Good to Great by Jim Collins
    • Making Work Human by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
    • 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
    • Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
    • Lead with a Story by Paul Smith