Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years

Paul B. Carroll, Author, Chunka Mui, Author . Penguin/Portfolio $25.95 (310p) ISBN 978-1-59184-219-4

Carroll (Big Blues ) and Mui (Unleashing the Killer App ) collaborate to perform an autopsy on some of the most spectacular business failures and corporate disasters in recent times, hunting down the fatal strategies responsible. The authors examine more than 750 “inexcusable” corporate collapses, neatly cataloguing them into eight common “failure patterns”: doomed practices, including the “Illusion of Synergies,” as illustrated by the ruinous merger attempts by Sears and Dean Witter; “Faulty Financial Engineering,” as conducted by Tyco and Revco; “Staying the (Misguided) Course Too Long,” a sin committed by Kodak, which missed the boat on digital photography; and “Consolidation Blues,” as depicted by U.S. Airways, which crashed as a consequence of buying up too many companies too quickly. While there are assuredly lessons in defeat and the authors' detailed analysis and bracing honesty is welcome, readers hoping for a more encouraging or inspirational business book might find Carroll and Mui's avalanche of disastrous failures, avoidable bankruptcies and destruction of shareholder value a depressing—if highly instructive—read. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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