In business school we were all taught the basic product/industry maturity model moving from growth to decline. Loosely, one could apply this to a company although multi-industry/product companies often exist within many stages at one time. I think this is part of every Marketing 101 class.

The First 90 Days takes a different route, with an organizational life cycle. They focus on assessing the state of a business at a point of time, to build a framework of decision making. The premise being that the approach and decisions that need to be made in start-up mode are dramatically different from a realignment scenario. Slide share has a reasonably succinct summary here. I have read the book many times, and reread it every time I take a new role.

Having just completed How The Mighty Fall, I was left wondering whether an additional organizational model is warranted based on Jim Collins’ work. Consider the two models he discusses in his books:

The model of decline via:


The model of going from Good to Great  via:

Academically, the challenge with a model like this is that it requires an understanding of the non-concrete element of leadership and how it impacts the destiny of a division or company. The declines outlined in How The Might Fall are filled with examples of arrogant or ‘glamour’ leaders. Some who made it all about themselves instead of the company, others who painted a grand vision – shaking everything up in search of a silver bullet to remake the company (Grasping For Salvation, a.k.a. Carly Fiorina) instead of focusing on that little important thing called cash flow. Collins gave an interview in Business Week that gives a good summary of the final 3 stages here.

There is definitely a model in there worthy of business school curriculum. If nothing else, all of the books are a must read and give a complete view of what it takes to go up, and what happens when it is going down.


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