April 19, 2007
News & Opinion: Bad to Worse (Failure - Part One In A Series)
There is no shortage of books written to explain the success of companies. In Search of Excellence and Good to Great are the best known for using this technique. There are not many books that do the opposite—look at why companies failed.
It is worth spending some time on the topic of failure. There are many more companies that fail than succeed. I am sure you have heard the comparison of the companies that were on the Dow Jones Industrials list in 1920 and the fact that General Electric is the only one that remains.
There is one possible constraint to think about. Phil Rosenwieg points out in The Halo Effect, it is hard to distinguish between success and what actually caused the success. There may be similar problems distinguishing failure and its causes. Let's just keep that in mind as we look at a few books that examine the difficulty of keeping businesses going.
This is going to be a series that will run over the next couple of weeks.