At the start of 2022, we set you a book challenge to read 22 books this year. Our short book reviews are here to help you find the best reads for yourself!
Mastering Decline: Stories and Lessons From a Company Making Profit Against the Odds is an honest story of a CEO operating his company in a declining market. The author, Alain Liebaert, shares the history of his family business and his tips for every manager or leader who runs a business in decline and is trying to remain profitable.
In the first part of the book, Alain tells the story of how his company, Liebaert Textile, was created by his great-grandfather in 1887. Using wit and humour, he goes on to describe all the struggles that come with operating a family business – lack of hierarchy, the inability to separate work from personal life and the constant disputes over how the company should be run and who should lead it. Alain then describes how he managed to restructure the business to ensure there was a clear understanding of everyone’s role, which then helped the company remain profitable. Today, Liebaert Textile is one of the few textile companies still operating in Europe, not having moved its operations to Asia as most of its competitors due to lower costs of production, which is one of the main reasons why the industry is in decline.
The book’s second part, called Managing Decline, focuses more on the practical tips the author can share with the reader on how a company in a declining market should be run. It focuses on six key points, that every manager should prioritise in order to keep their business profitable: people, product, structure, money, evaluation and outside forces. Alain describes why all of them are very important for your success and gives clear examples and tips that will help every manager improve in all of these six areas.
Written with simple language, this book is a very useful guide for everyone struggling to keep their company afloat. The tips the author shares are straightforward and easy to understand and follow. It’s not packed with useless data and information but only tells you what you need to know to survive, which is what you really need if you’re operating a business in a declining market. And if that’s not enough, the first part is written so engagingly that you want to keep reading about the family history and how the company was developed since the XIX century.
Paula Disberry, Retail Advisor and Non-Executive Director, described the book as “three books in one: it’s an engaging study of the challenges of family businesses; it’s an incredibly helpful case study in managing change and adversity; and it’s a playbook for CEOs looking to achieve both balance and success in every aspect of life.” And I couldn’t have described it any better than that.
In this book, a former management consultant and current CEO of a company that survived decline in its market provides practical and hard-won advice for managers and owners of any company in a declining market or situation. In doing so, the author highlights key activities that companies in declining markets should focus on in order to secure their future and remain profitable.