The Five Stages of Decline

Introducing the Stages
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 20

Today is an overview of the Five Stages of Decline. In following posts, I will give more detail to each stage.

Five Stages of Decline Jim Collins

ONE. Pride.
It is always the original and deadliest of sins.  Whether in your personal life or in that of an organization - it is ALWAYS DEADLY. Organizations themselves take on the character of its leaders. Remember Enron and its leadership tribe who believed they were "the smartest guys in the room"?

TWO. The Undisciplined Pursuit of More.
Note it is not the pursuit of more. Nothing wrong with pursuing more. It is the undisciplined pursuit of more that leads to distorted desires and dangerous decision making practices.

THREE. Denial of Risk.
You believe you are above the risk. Your ego assumes you will make it work. You begin to distort reality and plan and implement according to those distortions. Things start to go seriously wrong with these distortion-biased decisions.

FOUR. Grasping for Salvation.
Or for a Savior. Here is when companies now go outside to find the guru, the genius, the expert, the hero, the Savior who will rescue them from the bad decisions. Not only is this a futile step, but it actually accerbates and acclerates the declne.

FIVE. Capitulation.
Even at this late stage, Collins believes all is not lost. But if you do - you give up... you become irrelevant... your organization dies.

That is a super brief overview of the stages of decline. As this series continues, I unpack them, sharing Collin's essential ideas and adding some of my own.


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International