Issue No. 149 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features the perfect book to highlight in your next five weekly staff meetings or department meetings. Jim Collins says there are five stages of decline in ALL organizations (including yours). Review one stage each week—and use the book as a gut check on your organization’s health. And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Most Companies Eventually Fall
In the early pages of this cautionary, wake-up call, Jim Collins mentions what a mentor told him about effective teaching: “don’t try to come up with the right answers; focus on asking good questions.” I started to count the elbow-in-the-ribs questions, but I ran out of ribs.
Some best-selling authors are one-book wonders. Not Collins. The author of Built to Last and Good to Great has delivered another barn-burner. While it builds on all of his previous work—like a good business book should—it aptly kick-starts you in the gut with not just good questions, but extraordinary insights. These are the “I-better-listen-carefully-and-not-mess-up” kind of soul-stirring questions timed perfectly for today’s economic environment.
He writes, “I’ve come to see institutional decline like a staged disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages, easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall.”
It’s not a happy book—it’s a must-read book. Leaders that are in it for the long haul will learn principles and best practices for preventing, detecting and reversing decline. Collins identifies five stages of decline:
• 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
“Overreaching” is one of the symptoms of Stage 2. “When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up for a fall,” he warns.
So why study failures? “We do ourselves a disservice by studying only success.” Collins adds that “most companies eventually fall, and we cannot deny this fact.” If you’re leading a company, nonprofit or church today, it’s possible that your own arrogance is blocking your view of reality, but there is hope. “Organizational decline is largely self-inflicted, and recovery largely within our control.”
To order this week’s book from Amazon, click on this title: How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Collins writes that people often ask, “’How do we get people to share our core values?’ The answer: you don’t. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang on to them.” What questions do we ask in interviews to get at the heart of the core value question?
2) Collins also adds, “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake.” On a scale of one to ten (one is very tightly managed and ten is giving team members massive personal responsibility), what is our number?
Date Board Nominees First - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Board Bucket, Chapter 14, in Mastering the Management Buckets, is to build a great board. A Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plan a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” It’s never too late to enrich your board with committed board members.
On my Buckets website, I’ve posted six best practices for working with your board, based on a webinar I presented for Christian Leadership Alliance earlier this year. Check out the templates and forms, including a template for a “Board Nominee Orientation Binder.” The secret to a great board is to identify potential board nominees and “date them” before you marry them. This binder will help.
NEXT CEO DIALOGUES:
• August 28, 2009 – CEO Dialogues 1-Day Roundtable (Dana Point, California)
• October 1, 2009 – CEO Dialogues 1-Day Roundtable (New York City)
Click here for more information.
MANAGEMENT BUCKETS WORKSHOP:
• October 20-21, 2009 – Mastering the Management Buckets Workshop Experience (Orange, County, California)
Click here for more information.