Illusion of Invincibility

- Why Managers Are No Smarter Than the Incas of 500 Years Ago


Illusion of Invincibility
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Why managers are no smarter than the Incas of 500 years ago. What did Atahualpa, the leader of the Inca Empire in 1532 and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the CEO of Nokia in 2007 have in common? Well, rather more than you might think. Both pre- sided over the sudden and dramatic downfall of their organizations. Both were blinded by the feeling of seemingly unstoppable success. And above all, both men were the victims of the illusion of invincibility. The tale of rags to riches is an attractive and enduring one and this dream lives on in countless start-ups and real-life success stories today, with Facebook, Google and Uber three of the best known current examples. But how certain can we really be that today's shooting stars won't meet the same fate as yesterday's fallen stars? Nokia, Kodak or Grundig are all companies whose extra- ordinary successes were only outshone by their equally legendary downfalls. A brief glance at the Fortune 500, Eurostoxx, DAX or family-owned business rankings is enough to see how rarely organizations, large or small, are able to succeed in maintaining their positions at the top for anything more than just a few decades, all of which begs the question: Is the risk of failure an intrinsic part of every great triumph? Today, when we search for the causes of these rapid falls from grace, we are quick to place the blame on digitalization or "disruption". However, this would seem to be only half the truth. The other half lies in the companies themselves; in poor leadership, selective blindness to threats and sheer carelessness. In this book, seasoned entrepreneurs Andreas Krebs and Paul Williams look behind the fa ade of success and systematically expose the factors that can sound the death knell for a company: egomania, nepotism and the often poorly-disguised personal interests of managers, to name just some. They offer inside stories, talk to a selection of top leaders from a broad range of organizations and round it all off with a suitable dose of black humour. In so doing, they reveal surprising parallels with the story of the Incas, who ruled a large and powerful empire for centuries before vanishing from the face of the earth virtually overnight. The comparison demonstrates that we're still making many of the same mistakes today. In an incisive, entertaining style, the book provides today's business leaders with vital insights on the importance of constant vigilance, particularly in times of seemingly assured success and offers original and practical guidance on modern organizational leadership, self-management and achieving sustainable business success.

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