How the Mighty Fall

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.