Nothing Fails Like Success: Why Change Now Happens Faster Than Ever


Originally published in Chief Executive

By Stephen M.R. Covey

Recently the head of a Colorado-based startup accelerator, working on the frontlines of disruption, said, “All big companies are startups that won.” The problem is once these companies win, they set up a game board and create rules so they can continue to defeat competing startups. They hide behind market share, their temporary competitive advantage, or even regulation—and think they’re safe.

These barriers are a false protection, because startups break the rules. They’re troublemakers. Uber literally defied laws, and if you were a taxi driver thinking your medallion was going to keep you safe, you had another thing coming.

Complacency sets in when we think that once we’ve set up the game board, all we need to do is play by our rules and we’ll keep winning. After an initial success—or perhaps after decades of success—we forget the need to constantly recreate and reinvent. As Bill Gates said, “The complacent company is a dead company.”

The idea that nothing fails like success is often attributed to the great historian Arnold Toynbee, as he chronicled the rise and fall of civilizations. He posited that when societies face challenges, they use creativity and innovation to successfully respond. But inevitably the nature of the challenge changes. And yet, they so often respond with their old approach. Their subsequent downfall is as certain as their newfound challenge—hence the expression, “Nothing fails like success.”


Read the full article at Chief Executive

Stephen M.R. Covey is the co-founder and Global Practice Leader of FranklinCovey’s Trust Practice, and the author of the book The Speed of Trust.