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Winning Through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal by Charles A. O'Reilly, Michael L. Tushman

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CHAPTER 1

THE TYRANNY OF SUCCESS

IN 1972, IBM, GENERAL MOTORS, AND SEARS RANKED number one, four, and six, respectively, in the Fortune 500 listing. In 1983, they were listed among the country’s most admired firms. In fact, in 1982, IBM was the most admired corporation in the survey. Yet, by 1992, each firm was struggling and none ranked among the top 20 Fortune firms. Cumulatively, they lost a total of $32.4 billion in 1992 alone. How could this happen? How could presumably smart managers, who were extraordinarily well paid to prevent failure, allow these great firms to lose their competitive advantage?1

In 1963, Thomas Watson, Jr. arguably one of America’s most famous executives, addressed a group of MBAs at Columbia University. He pointed ...

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