Some Stages of Failure

I have recently gone back and re-read management guru Jim Collins’ book, How the Mighty Fail. In this research Collins examines some of the “great” companies highlighted in his previous works, Built to Last and Good to Great, that have since severely declined or failed entirely. Collins identifies five major stages in the process of decline.

Now before I go on I acknowledge that us children’s pastors must be careful in applying business research to our ministries, but I also believe just as strong that we can glean some truth from these stages. I can see how any leader within a business, organization, or church can lead a group down this same spiral to failure.

Stage 1: Arrogance born from success. Some take on a sense of superiority and fail to question their relevance when conditions change.

Stage 2: Undisciplined pursuit of more. Slippery slope of overreaching – they venture into areas where their original qualities of success do not apply.

Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril. Signs of failure appear, previous success is enough to still carry them. Leaders convince themselves that all is well. Problems are blamed on external factors.

Stage 4: Grasping for some type of rescue. Problems can no longer be ignored. Instead of returning to the principles that got them to previous success, leaders take extreme risks and drastically change strategy.

Stage 5: Giving up to irrelevance or death. The firm dies or is forgotten.

What are your thoughts on the above? What are some other mistakes leaders make to take a ministry from good to great to gone?

One more good book by Collins that will help apply the Good to Great principles for those of us in the non-profit ares is his book Good to Great and the social sectors.

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