Monday, June 29, 2009

Do the Mighty Always Fall?

I’m a big fan of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last. So when I received a copy of his newest book, How the Mighty Fall, I put my other reading aside and dug in.

Collins takes an interesting turn in his latest, research-based project. Rather than focusing on greatness, he examines why successful companies fall and how they might prevent or reverse a meltdown. He identifies five stages of decline that form a consistent pattern in these riches-to-rags stories. Interestingly, the first two stages (and even some of stage 3) occur when a company is still on the way up.

As with Collins’ other works, the lessons for churches are readily transferable. I’ve known far too many that are guilty of “grasping for salvation” (stage 4), thinking that all they need is the right leader or the latest fad program. And I wonder how many of today’s newsmakers might have entered stage 1, “hubris born of success.”

There’s one caveat to this recommendation. Even though How the Mighty Fall is based on the same type of in-depth analysis as Collins’ other books, this one is not as lengthy nor did I have as many “aha” moments. Collins explains in the preface that the project began as an article, but then “evolved into this small book.” The flip side is that it’s a quick read – only 123 pages plus appendices. My bottom line: it’s a worthwhile investment to learn (as the subtitle says) “why some companies never give in.”

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