Why Smart Executives Fail

Why Smart Executives Fail : And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes

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Bob Pittman and AOL Time Warner. Jean Marie Messier and Vivendi. Jill Barad and Mattel. Dennis Kozlowski and Tyco. It's an all too common scenario. A great company breaks from the pack; the analysts are in love; the smiling CEO appears on the cover of Fortune. Two years later, the company is in flames, the pension plan is bleeding, the stock is worthless. What goes wrong in these cases? Usually it seems that top management made some incredibly stupid mistakes. But the people responsible are almost always remarkably intelligent and usually have terrific track records. Just as puzzling as the fact that brilliant managers can make bad mistakes is the way they so often magnify the damage. Once a company has made a serious mis-step, it often seems as though it can't do anything right. How does this happen? Instead of rectifying their mistakes, why do business leaders regularly make them worse? To answer these questions, Sydney Finkelstein has carried out the largest research project ever devoted to corporate mistakes and failures. In WHY SMART EXECUTIVES FAIL, he and his research team uncover-with startling clarity and unassailable documentation-the causes regularly responsible for major business breakdowns. He relates the stories of great business disasters and demonstrates that there are specific, identifiable ways in which many businesses regularly make themselves vulnerable to failure. The result is a truly indispensable, practical, must-read book that explains the mechanics of business failure, how to avoid them, and what to do if they happen.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 138 x 210 x 20mm | 322.05g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1591840457
  • 9781591840459
  • 81,608

Review quote

A marvelaa jargon-free business book based on serious research that offers genuine insights with clarity and sometimes even wit... it should be required reading not just for executives but for investors as well. ("The Wall Street Journal") Richly detailed storytelling and analysis. ("Fortune") A landmark book, certain to become a classic. (Warren Bennis) If you think you know whatas bringing down the leaders of the corporate world, think again. (Alan Hassenfeld, Chairman and CEO, Hasbro Inc.)

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About Sydney Finkelstein

A professor of strategy and leadership at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, Sydney Finkelstein is a leading figure in worldwide executive education. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Organizational Dynamics, and other leading journals.

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Table of contents

Why Smart Executives FailAcknowledgments Preface 1. Why Smart Executives Fail What Can Studying Failure Tell You? Part I: Great Corporate Mistakes 2. New Business Breakdowns Stories of New Ventures That Don't Work...and Why 3. Innovation and Change Choosing Not to Cope 4. Mergers and Acquisitions The Search for Synergy, the Quest for Integration Strategy Gone Bad: Doing the Wrong Thing Why Strategists Misread Competitors and Select "Irrational" Strategies Part II: The Causes of Failure 6. Brilliantly Fulfilling the Wring Vision How Executive Mind-set Failures Push Businesses to the Brink...and Beyond 7. Delusions of a Dream Company How Executives Avoid Facing Reality 8. Tracking Down the Lost Signals Why Businesses Don't Act on Vital Information 9. Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful People The Personal Qualities of Leaders Who Preside over Major Business failures Part III: Learning From Mistakes 10. Predicting the Future The Early Warning Signs 11. How Smart Executives Learn Living-and Surviving-in a World of Mistakes Notes Index

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