Lessons from the Titans Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Lessons from the Titans tells the story of some of the biggest industrial companies in the United States and presents life-long strategies, valuable ideas, and mistakes to avoid for any business who wants to achieve long-term success.

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Lessons from the Titans Summary

Starting up a business, scaling it, going through the ups and downs of an economy, all while staying relevant on the market is definitely one of the toughest jobs in the world. Still, some companies managed to pass the test of time and make a name for themselves, year after year.

Lessons from the Titans by Scott Davis, Carter Copeland, and Rob Wertheimer explores the secrets of such companies and how to start a business and scale it successfully, while also avoiding common mistakes and traps in the industry. From cost management to the organizational culture, every little detail matters.

By learning from the top organizations in the US why some companies fail and some become highly successful, you’ll be able to assess yours better and turn it into a thriving entity. The first lesson is that everything starts from the top down.

Besides this one, here are three of my favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Companies that don’t have an open door policy from top down become fragile in time.
  2. Greed and creative accounting can deturn years of hard work and success.
  3. Increasing profits can happen by improving sales, cutting costs, and taking care of employees.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these lessons and learn about the ups and downs of running a company and how to turn it into a successful business.

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Lesson 1: An organizational culture that promotes exchanging opinions and pointing faults is the key to success

There were times when GE’s lights weren’t shining so bright and Boeing was facing major turbulences. When Welch became the CEO of GE in the 80s, he took a lot of risks. Some parts were justified and brought plenty of revenue in. However, the success may have gotten to his head.

GE formed two branches: the one focusing on its core business, and another one that acted more like a bank for its customers. They lent risky credits, issued bonds and credit cards, and spent money in other risky businesses. As a result, GE created a bubble ready to pop. However, management effectiveness couldn’t be questioned.

The culture just didn’t permit it. The outcome? GE fell tremendously during the 2008 crisis. Luckily, Warren Buffett and the US government stepped in and saved it from bankruptcy. Boeing faced a similar story when they produced faulty 737 MAX airplanes that ended up crashing twice in 2019. 

The major issue reported by employees was that management was chasing profits and not listening to the workers when they encountered problems. With so much arrogance and so many deals with Wall Street on the table at the top, who was taking care of the core business and the employees? No one, therefore Boeing collapsed.

Lesson 2: In the race for money and status, executives often forget about a company’s core value and purpose

Nowadays, companies often promote workplace security, values, and principles at the core of their business, and hide their greed for profits. Let’s take the example of Boeing once again. Obviously, this company magnate dominates the market in their industry and has met tremendous success.

Still, greed caught up with it, up to a point that Boeing’s executives were getting into shady deals with Wall Street, fixing books with the accounting department, pushing production just to meet targets, and keeping everything hidden from the public eye. Again, the fault begins with executives and the culture of canceling whistleblowers. 

Greed plays a huge role in the downfall or dissolving of companies. Short-term profits can overshadow long-term prosperity and even cost lives. For example, in Boeing’s quest to compete with Airbus and push production of the 737 MAX, they deliberately failed to train pilots on the new features of the plane. 

Even worse, they didn’t even try to let them know about these changes. The result was hundreds of lost lives, two crashed airplanes in 2019, and a declining stock followed by negative figures. The lesson here is to never let short-term profits take over the bigger picture and shadow the core values of your company.

Lesson 3: Success comes with incremental changes, cutting costs healthily, and improving employee morale

Some of the worst mistakes that CEOs of the biggest companies made revolved around greed, a profit-oriented mentality, not paying enough attention to the core values of their business, and doing too many changes at once. But now, let’s focus on the great deeds too!

For starters, a great company is defined by employees. When a business takes care of its staff, the staff takes care of the customers. Although it sounds simple in theory, practice beats everyone to it. Then, there’s the profit part. This subject shouldn’t be taboo, yet it also shouldn’t be over-pushed. 

Profit is a result of cutting costs or increasing sales. When Welch took over GE, he made sure to do away with the unnecessary costs and let go of unwanted weights, and that was a good thing for the company. 

When Boeing decided to cut on steps in the manufacturing process and let go of quality control managers, that was the beginning of the company’s downfall. Such cost cuts are negative and shouldn’t normally occur. Instead, a great company focuses on increasing profits from sales or healthy cut costs from unnecessary areas.

Lessons from the Titans Review

Lessons from the Titans present the case studies of ten of the greatest companies in the USA, their best and worst practices, what great management looks like, and also how one company can crumble from the top down. Businesses can inherit tremendous value from such lessons and learn how to scale up, focus on their core values, and achieve long-term sustainability, reading this book will give you a much deeper insight into the world of business, finance, profits, and management.

Who would I recommend the Lessons from the Titans Summary to?

The 30-year-old economist who is passionate about business case studies, the 35-year-old business owner who finds himself facing challenges in their organization and wants to learn how to overcome them, or the 25-year-old MBA student who wants to learn more outside their curricula.

Last Updated on October 6, 2022

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.