Book Review: How The Mighty Fall

Jim Collins set out to write an article on how successful companies fail. For some reason, probably commercial, he decided to turn it into a short book.

He should have stuck with the article idea.

While the ideas presented are certainly interesting, there is nowhere near enough material to justify R290. Almost half the book is “appendices” covering, very weakly, some of the victims of the financial crisis and providing background data and information that gave rise to the conclusions reached.

I usually quite like the idea of having all the information available so the conclusions don’t have to be taken on blind faith. I just don’t see why these couldn’t be provided for free on the web or something.

I was also very disappointed to not see a greater distinction drawn between failure of large, geared financial services firms that take on too much, poorly understood risk and other enterprises with very different reasons for failure. I’m starting to doubt how much Jim Collins even knows about financial services firms and what led to the recent troubles!

Read it for sure, but read it quickly and make sure you’re reading a borrowed copy from some mug like me who actually paid full-book-price for a long article.

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