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How total quality management can stop your company from failing


Business history is littered with the corpses of companies that were hailed and deeply admired, not just by ephemeral stock markets and their acolytes, but by highly experienced and intelligent management gurus.

Enron is only the latest sorry example of a phenomenon that will undoubtedly recur: the new boys muscling into an established industry with new methods which achieve unparalleled growth and miracles of profitability that far exceed the going rates.

There are always two possible explanations. Either the sitting managements have become too conservative, too hidebound and so slow in reacting to opportunity that it is allowed to pass by. In other words, the firms have become too bad to be good. Or else the miracles and their makers are too good to be true. The new men and methods are not as successful as they seem, and the new order of profitability is partly achieved by doubtful accounting devices, or even worse financial juggling. Enron's collapse seems to have resulted from both exercises in false creativity.

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