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.
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Sydney Finkelstein is Professor of Strategy and Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, as well as Faculty Director of the Tuck Executive Program and Faculty Director of the Center for Leadership. He is a consultant and speaker to senior executives around the globe, as well as an executive coach, focusing on talent development, corporate governance, learning from mistakes, and strategies for growth. He has published 20 previous books, including the Wall Street Journal bestseller Why Smart Executives Fail. He is listed in the "Thinkers 50," the world's most prestigious ranking of leadership gurus. He has been featured in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Business Week, the London Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, the London Times, Inc, and Fast Company and is a regular columnist for the BBC. He is well known for his keynote speeches and media appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, and Marketplace.