Corporate Turnaround: How Managers Turn Losers Into Winners! Corporate Turnaround: How Managers Turn Losers Into Winners!
By Donald B. Bibeault
1998/01 - Beard Books
1893122026 - Paperback - Reprint - 424 pp.

The ultimate guide on crisis management of corporations that are foundering or failing.

August 2016 interview with Don Bibeault

Publisher Comments

Category: Bankruptcy & Restructuring

This title is part of the Turnarounds list.

Of Interest:

Corporate Recovery: Managing Companies in Distress

Hospital Turnarounds: Lessons in Leadership

Small Business Bankruptcy Reorganizations 

Taking Charge: Management Guide to Troubled Companies and Turnarounds

The Turnaround Manager's Handbook

The Executive Guide to Corporate Bankruptcy

A comprehensive guide on how to turn a financially distressed company into a strong viable one. Based on the experience of 97 corporate leaders who successfully managed turnarounds in more than 200 failing corporations, the book analyzes the reasons for corporate decline, expounds on the key factors in turnaround success, and provides management strategies and practices for regaining growth and profits.

From the back cover blurb:

Crisis management is an art whose time definitely has come.  Corporations by the score are foundering or failing, taking with them jobs and assets worth millions of dollars.  Corporate Turnaround: How Managers Turn Losers into Winners! teaches you the art of managing corporate crises -- how to turn a loser company into a strong competitor.  

From Turnarounds and Workouts, November 2007:

Corporate Turnaround offers, claims the author, a “four-pronged approach” to taking the “mystery out of turnaround management.” One of the prongs – Biebeault’s personal experiences – is complemented with another prong – interviews with sixteen top turnaround specialists. Together, they bring forth the drama and the stakes of turnarounds.  The other two prongs – surveys of eighty-one corporate presidents and the author’s exhaustive research (400 references in all, taken from books, periodicals, and scholarly writings) – lend a great deal of substance and authority to the book’s subject matter. This variety of material greatly enriches the book, which is perhaps more relevant today than it was in 1982 when it was first published.

Identifying the underlying causes for failure can be a futile chicken-and-egg pursuit.  “Businesses decline for both uncontrollable external reasons and for controllable internal reasons,” says Bibeault. Nonetheless, Bibeault adds that “[i]n most problems are internally generated.” As one of his sources explains, managing a company is like piloting a ship. “If the ship is in good condition and the captain is competent, it is almost impossible for it to be sunk by a wave or a succession of waves.” A competent captain with a ship in good condition can even bring it through a storm.

The manager of a company is different from the captain of a ship, however, in that the manager not only has to pilot the company, but is also responsible for its condition. The central challenge for a manager is to ensure that the company is structurally solid, operationally relevant, efficient, and adaptable to be able to weather any conditions the company might encounter. Even though, as Bibeault maintains, in practically all cases business problems are internally generated, this does not rule out having to heed external conditions. External economic, political, or market conditions expose and exacerbate a company’s internal weaknesses. “Management is not always able to deal with outside forces, even when they can see them gathering.” A manager can be effective, however, in “getting a company into a posture, both from a marketing and financial point of view, where it can resist normal business hazards and other more serious external challenges.”  In such circumstances, a turnaround may be a company’s only hope for survival, and the abilities of a turnaround manager are required.

Bibeault describes such managers as “the George Pattons of the business world.” “They don’t have a lot of friends, they’re not social successes, they’re just known as blood-and-guts guys,” is the way one corporate executive puts it; a description repeated
in different words by other experienced businesspersons Bibeault consulted.

In Corporate Turnaround, Bibeault explores every facet of a turnaround. The causes of a company’s decline are followed with a thorough consideration of the management basics in effecting a turnaround. The book also examines the attributes of the turnaround manager and offers specific pragmatic steps for getting on the path to recovery.  Lastly, Corporate Turnaround offers an overall strategy. The book is not only informative about the crucial subject of corporate turnaround, but also a manual for managing one.

Bibeault has worked on turnarounds of distressed companies for over 25 years in addition to holding top executive positions in a number of corporations. He also holds advisory or governing board positions with different universities and business groups.

Great for all managers, not just turnarounds, November 12, 2001
Reviewer: Russell Burbank (
This book contains sound advice for all managers, not just managers of distressed businesses. Knowing and understanding the danger signs of distress can help a manager stay out of trouble. Although this book was written over 20 years ago, the material is totally relevant today, especially in light of the recent IPO meltdown. It would be great reading for a CEO who must now live entirely within his own means.

Right on Target, April 8, 2001
Reviewer: T James Herrmann (
I just reordered two more copies of Corporate Turnaround by Donald Bibeault.

I am an investment banker who, on occasion, has a client that gets into financial trouble. I find the book very helpful in both organizing a turnaround plan for the client as well as in coaching the client in taking corrective action.

When I first read Dr. Bibeault's book, I immediately recognized that this author knew exactly what happens to a troubled company and has mastered the tools of recovery from practical experience and not from some academic research. Bibeault's turnaround steps are simple and realistic and therefore can be applied in a variety of circumstances.

Each time that I encounter a turnaround situation, I offer my client a copy of Corporate Turnaround with relevant passages highlighted. As a first step, I always turn to Chapter 19 - "The Emergency Stage", and put emphasis on the section that covers Cash Flow Analysis and Control. Building a chart similar to the one showing a cash flow plan is an especially useful way to get started in the right direction.

I am delighted to see that this book is back in print because it's the best in its field. And in my case, its teachings have helped to save a number of companies from almost certain bankruptcy.

Definitely a primer for turnarounds, April 23, 2000
Reviewer: Tekiegreg (
For those who need an introduction to corporate turnarounds, look here! Tells you what they are about, and what are the keys to a good turnaround. However for those looking to turn around a failing company, you would still best be served looking for a professional consultant granted every case is unique.

Bob Pascal (, very interested in corporate turnarounds, October 2, 2001  (Barnes and Noble)
Eye opening & to the point This book is a must read for any person who is involved in management, whatever their level. Read it before business gets bad and chances are you will prevent most problems before they occur! Mr. Bibeault please e-mail me.

Donald B. Bibeault has turned around severely troubled companies for more than twenty-five years. He has served as Chairman, CEO, or Chief Operation Officer of numerous  corporations including Pacific States Steel, PLM International, Best Pipe and Steel, Inc., Ironstone Group, Inc., American National Petroleum, Inc., Tyler-Dawson Supply and Iron Oak Supply Corporation. He has also served as special advisor to the CEO of Varity Corporations (formerly Massey-Ferguson Ltd.) and as a workout advisor to Bank to America. He is a member of the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School, a Trustee of Golden Gate University and a member of the University of Rhode Island Business Advisory Board. Dr. Bibeault holds an MBA from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Golden Gate University. Photo taken from the back cover.

:List of Tables xiii
Preface xv
Acknowledgments xvii
About the Author xix
Introduction 1
1. Failure and Decline in Perspective 7
The Perspective 7
Definitions of Failure and Decline 8
Failure and Decline Statistics 10
Trajectories of Failure 11
2. Predictable Organizational Crisis 17
The Seeds of Future Crisis 17
Stages of Corporate Development 18
3.  Is Decline Externally or Internally Cause? 23
4. External Reasons for Decline 27
The Impact of Change 27
Economic Change 28
Competitive Change 29
Government Constraints 30
Social Change 31
Technological Change 32
5.  Internal Reasons for Decline 35
The Management Factor 35
One-Man Rule 38
Lack of Management Depth 40
Management Change Problems 41
Inbred Bureaucratic Management 42
The Unbalanced Top Management Team 43
Weak Finance Function 43
Nonparticipative Board of Directors 44
6. The Most Common Errors of Bad Management 49
Failure to Keep Pace with Changes in the Marketplace 49
Lack of Operating Controls 50
Overexpansion 53
Excessive Leverage 58
7. Early-Warning Signals of Decline 61
Functional Blinders 61
Types of Warning Signals 62
Mathematical Forecasting Signals 62
Adverse Trend Signals 66
Adverse Behavioral Signals 68
8. The Moment of Truth for Management 73
The Ostrich Approach 74
Fighting Reality 75
Reality Arrives 76
9. The Corporate Turnaround Perspective 81
The Perspective 81
A Quantitative View of Turnarounds 82
The Management Process Turnaround 86
The Economic (or Business Cycle) Turnaround 87
The Competitive Environment Turnaround 88
The Product Breakthrough Turnaround 89
The Government-Related Turnaround 89
10.  Stages in the Turnaround Cycle 91
The Stages of a Turnaround 92
The Management Change Stage 93
The Evaluation Stage 95
The Emergency Stage 99
The Stabilization Stage 102
The Return-to-Normal-Growth Stage 106
When Is the Company Turned Around? 107
11. The Key Factors in Turnaround Success 111
The Elements 111
Improving Management Processes 113
A Viable Core Business 115
Adequate Bridge Financing 118
Improving Motivation 121
12. Turnaround Failures 125
Multiple Turnaround Attempts 125
Ineffective Management 127
Poor Turnaround Strategy 129
Insufficient Financial Resources 130
Government Interference 131
Bail-out Strategies Short of Chapter 11 132
Life in the Toils of the Bankruptcy Act 134
13. The Management Change Stage 141
The Management Change Decision 141
Quantitative Views of Management Change 145
14. Turnaround Leader Characteristics 149
A Variety of Styles 149
Spotting the Turnaround Leader 151
Required Skills 153
Motivating Characteristics 156
Turnaround Leaders' Style 158
15. Taking Charge 163
Take Charge Strategies 163
The First Step -- Getting People's Attention 166
Immediate Actions 169
Attacking Problems 172
Keeping Charge 176
Some Parting Thoughts on Taking Charge 177
16. Motivating the Organization 181
The Importance of Motivation 181
The Stages of Turning People Around 182
Basics of Motivation in a Turnaround 186
Strong Leadership 189
The Organizational Kick in the Pants 191
Reestablishing a Climate of Success 193
Participation and Communication 197
17. The Evaluation Stage 203
Structuring the Evaluation 203
The Preliminary Viability Analysis 205
The Detailed Viability Analysis 209
Evaluating the Company's Financial Strength 213
Evaluating a Company's Competitive Position 219
Evaluating Your People's Resources 223
Putting It All Together 225
18. Planning Strategies in Turnaround Situations 231
The Need for Practical Planning 231
The Basic Planning Elements 234
Planning Contrasts by Turnaround Stage 237
The Emergency Plan 239
The Stabilization Plan 251
The Return-to-Normal-Growth Plan 255
19. The Emergency Stage 263
Emergency Stage Basics 263
Asset Redeployment in the Emergency Stage 264
Financial Management in the Emergency Stage 268
Operating Management in the Emergency Stage 277
Marketing Management in the Emergency Stage 284
Human Resources Management in the Emergency Stage 293
20. The Stabilization Stage 299
Stabilization Stage Basics 299
Asset Redeployment in the Stabilization Stage 300
Financial Management in the Stabilization Stage 302
Operating Management in the Stabilization Stage 311
Marketing Management in the Stabilization Stage 318
Human Resources Management in the Stabilization Stage 326
In Summary 333
21. The Return-To-Growth Stages 337
The Basics of This Stage 337
Asset Redeployment in the Return-to-Growth Stage 338
Financial Management in the Return-to-Growth Stage 340
Operating Management in the Return-to-Growth Stage 346
Marketing Management in the Return-to-Growth Stage 350
Human Resources Management in the Return-to-Growth Stage 357
Appendix 363
Selected Biography 373
Index 395

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