Authors: Matthew Le Merle, Christopher Dann, Chris Pencavel
Published in Strategy + Business Magazine
Many benchmarks of corporate practice start by looking at successful companies. We decided to study the biggest losers: companies that, in one way or another, had seen their fortunes go south over a 10-year period. We had gone through this exercise once before. In 2004, when the Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom scandals were fresh, we surveyed thousands of public companies and determined that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, it was not compliance issues that were most responsible for destroying shareholder value. That distinction went to the mismanagement of strategic risks — those risks embedded in the top-level decisions made by the executive team, such as what products and services to offer, whether to outsource manufacturing, or what acquisitions to make.