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

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

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591840459
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,168,157
Product dimensions: 8.14(w) x 5.62(h) x 0.74(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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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Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Why Smart Executives Fail is a must-read for any person who wants to be successful not only in business but also in life. As I read this book, I found many similarities in the people who had managed to turn successful businesses into failures and people who have nothing to do with business: just life in general. As a research associate working with the author of Why Smart Executives Fail, I located and interviewed numerous individuals with very different personalities. It was interesting to me that some of the most influential people were more accessible and pleasant to interact with than some of the less successful. Does that say something about why they are more successful? Some of the extremely well-known individuals spoke about their personal lives without fear of exposure or ¿bad press¿. Other interviewees were extremely guarded and impatient with my questions. Some of the interviewees were contacted for an interview once and others were contacted over a period of months. The way Professor Finkelstein made sense of the vast amount of information is amazing! Whether you¿re reading about failures, causes, delusions or habits, you will take away very valuable lessons from this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With a PhD in Management, I've certainly read a great deal about the successes and failures of executives. Imagine my delight then that I found such new and fascinating insights in Finkelstein's book! 'Why Smart Executives Fail' sets itself apart by providing numerous examples of business failures and grounding those examples with in-depth analysis and interviews. Anyone who reads this book is sure to walk away with a much better understanding of the causes of business failures and how they can avoid mistakes in their own careers.