Jim Collins has a new book out on the fall of great companies. Here's what the slippery slope looks like:
Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Movements become institutions and institutions decline. The mighty today are the fallen tomorrow. That's the pattern of history. Although Collins' research emphasizes, some organizations do recover—in some cases, coming back even stronger—even after having crashed into the depths of Stage 4.
Decline, it turns out, is largely self-inflicted. We are not imprisoned by our circumstances, our history, or even our staggering defeats along the way. The mighty can fall, but they can often rise again.