Big businesses fail for slightly more weird reasons than artistic movements run out of steam, great nations crumble or religions fade. Marshall Loeb has a handy review of Jim Collins’s How the Mighty Fail that outlines the lessons we can learn at the graves of Rubbermaid and A&P. As in all business books, the lessons seem to be that every tactic works and no tactic will ever work. “The undisciplined pursuit of more,” “denial of risk and peril” and “capitulation to irrelevance or death” do seem like worth avoiding. But I’m not sure that they really nail Rubbermaid’s mistake:
Rubbermaid , the housewares products company … aimed to introduce more than one new product every day — and proved only that a company can grow too fast. “As Rubbermaid realized too late, innovation can fuel growth, but frenetic innovation — growth that erodes consistent tactical excellence — can just as easily send a company cascading through the stages of decline.” Newell Co. acquired Rubbermaid in 1999.