Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Harv Bus Rev. 1999 Jul-Aug;77(4):42-8, 50-2, 183.

Why good companies go bad.

Author information

  • 1London Business School.

Abstract

One of the most common business phenomena is also one of the most perplexing: when successful companies face big changes, they often fail to respond effectively. Many assume that the problem is paralysis, but the real problem, according to Donald Sull, is active inertia--an organization's tendency to persist in established patterns of behavior. Most leading businesses owe their prosperity to a fresh competitive formula--a distinctive combination of strategies, relationships, processes, and values that sets them apart from the crowd. But when changes occur in a company's markets, the formula that brought success instead brings failure. Stuck in the modes of thinking and working that have been successful in the past, market leaders simply accelerate all their tried-and-true activities. In attempting to dig themselves out of a hole, they just deepen it. In particular, four things happen: strategic frames become blinders; processes harden into routines; relationships become shackles; and values turn into dogmas. To illustrate his point, the author draws on examples of pairs of industry leaders, like Goodyear and Firestone, whose fates diverged when they were forced to respond to dramatic changes in the tire industry. In addition to diagnosing the problem, Sull offers practical advice for avoiding active inertia. Rather than rushing to ask, "What should we do?" managers should pause to ask, "What hinders us?" That question focuses attention on the proper things: the strategic frames, processes, relationships, and values that can subvert action by channeling it in the wrong direction.

PMID:
10539208
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk