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SECTION 3: Adaptability Matters Now > 3.3: DIAGNOSING DECLINE

3.3

DIAGNOSING DECLINE

I grew up in Michigan, so the bankruptcy of General Motors in 2009 struck close to home. There was a time when GM made more than half the cars sold in America. And then it was a ward of the state. GM's demise wasn't the result of one spectacularly ill–conceived decision; the company didn't jump off a cliff. Instead, it stumbled into mediocrity, one small, short–sighted step at a time. Thanks to the U.S. taxpayer, it got a shot at redemption, but no one's betting it will regain its former glory.

A company can coast for a long time when it starts with a dominant share of an enormous, hard–to–penetrate business in the world's largest economy—but given enough time, and enough myopia, it will eventually run out of momentum.

GM is not the only company that's sputtering right now. EMI, The New York Times, Johnson and Johnson, Nokia, Kodak—these are just a few of the companies that have lost their mojo in recent years. Truth is, every organization is successful until it's not—and today, there are a lot that aren't.


  

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