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The Five D's of Decline

Failure often follows a predictable trajectory

Is 2020 a bump in the road or the beginning of the end? That’s not a trick question. For some companies, the virus and lockdown have been navigable albeit inconvenient and annoying. For others, they have been devastating. And the social unrest has troubled us all.

For nearly two decades, my firm has been studying corporate decline and renewal. Why do some companies survive and even thrive during tough times, while others go under? Is it entirely due to external circumstances and environmental considerations? What roles do marketplace dynamics and corporate culture play? How (and how much) does leadership affect the outcome? Is any of it preventable? Is there a proven way back from the brink?

The answers, as you might imagine, are complicated; every situation is different and every company unique. But there are certain predictable dynamics we see at play in almost every case of corporate decline -- sometimes mild and, at other times, acute. And there are also a handful of principles that, if followed, can greatly increase an organization’s chances of survival, regardless of the circumstances it faces.

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