Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Donald N Sull on Why Good Companies Go Bad

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Interview with Donald N Sull on Why Good Companies Go Bad

January 2007 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Active inertia stems from a company's defining commitments—its unique set of strategies, processes, resources, relationships, and values—that enabled its initial success.
— Donald N Sull
Effective executive interview with Donald N Sull on Why Good Companies Go Bad.

Donald N Sull is an Associate Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School, where he teaches electives on leading strategic transformation and driving strategic agility for growth. Sull has published four books, over 65 articles, book chapters and cases. Four of his six Harvard Business Review articles have been bestsellers.

His most recent book Made in China: What Western Managers can Learn from Trail-blazing Chinese Entrepreneurs (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) was named one of the top eight business books of 2005 by

the Financial Times. Why Good Companies Go Bad and How Great Managers Remake Them (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) was named a finalist for the Academy of Management's Outstanding Management Book Award, listed among the top ten business books of the year by business publications around the world, and translated into eight languages. Sull's academic research has won honors including the George S. Dively Award for outstanding dissertation and the Newcomen Prize for the best paper in business history

Sull has won teaching awards at the London Business School and Harvard University. He is

the Faculty Director of the Global Business Consortium, an executive education program designed to accelerate multinationals' ability to create and sustain radical performance improvement which includes Oracle, Emirates Airline, Mars/Masterfood, Standard Chartered Bank, SKF and BT. He is a core faculty member on the London Business School's Senior Executive Programme, and teaches an open program on driving strategic agility. He has consulted to multinationals around the world including Procter & Gamble, Royal Bank of Canada, Standard Chartered Bank, Roche, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Danone, Pricewaterhouse - Coopers, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, ACNielsen, Compaq Computer, Ericsson, TDC Mobile, Credit Suisse First Boston, and LG Electronics, among others.

Sull has received his AB, MBA, and doctorate from Harvard University, and served as a professor of entrepreneurship at the Harvard Business School. Prior to academia, Sull worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, and as a management-investor with the leveraged buyout firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. He remains active in private equity as an advisor and investor.

He can also be reached at

Useful for Understanding of:

  • Definition of Good Companies
  • 'Active Inertia'
  • Triggers/Signals to identify 'Active Inertia'
  • Strategies to overcome 'Active Inertia'
  • The Role of Leadership in Bailing Companies out of 'Active Inertia'.
Originally Published in Effective Executive, IUP
Effective Executive Reference No. 03M-2007-01-04-06
IBSCDC Reference No. INT0012
Year and Month of Publication January 2007
Keywords Donald N Sull, Definition of Good Companies, Active Inertia, Triggers/Signals to identify Active Inertia, Strategies to overcome Active Inertia, The Role of Leadership in Bailing Companies out of Active Inertia

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