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  • Death Rattle is the seventh and final stage in every organization’s development, after Early Struggle, Fun, Whitewater. Predictable Success, Treadmill and The Big Rut.
  • Death Rattle occurs at the end of The Big Rut, when the organization finally runs out of resources, and/or its market disappears because of technological or other change, or simply because the organization is no longer meeting its customers’ needs.
  • Death Rattle usually takes the form of either a fire sale of the company’s assets (perhaps including its brand name), or liquidation through bankruptcy.


Apart from finding an orderly exit (sale or closure of the business, not-for-profit or whatever the organization is), there is no strategy for dealing with, or getting out of, Death Rattle.

As a result, the best strategy is to avoid ending up there in the first place - and that means not slipping from stage 5 (Treadmill) in to stage 6 (The Big Rut) - because once it's in The Big Rut, the organization has lost the ability to self-diagnose and will irreversibly slide, eventuallly, in to Death Rattle.

"There's nothing pretty, and very little that is constructive, about watching an organization in the final stage of Death Rattle."
- Les McKeown, Founder and CEO, Predictable Success

"...If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life."
- Brooke Shields

The 3 Key Challenges in Death Rattle


Having likely spent a long time in the previous decline stage (The Big Rut) focussed almost entirely internally on it's own systems and processes, by the time the organization hits Death Rattle it has completely lost any connection with it's previous market (or the people it served, if it was a NFP).

Find out why


If it has reached Death Rattle, that means the organization at some point passed through decline stage 5 (Treadmill) into decline stage 6 (The Big Rut), during which transition it will have lost it's Visionary leadership, and with it, the entrepreneurial ability to innovate and take risks.

Find out how


The over-reliance on systems and processes, loss of market connection, and loss of innovation that defines Death Rattle, together contribute to an overall culture of laissez-faire that eventually coalesces into an overarching sense of a loss of purpose - everyone is just 'going through the motions'.

Find out how and why 

The Team That Operates in Death Rattle

A key element - in our view, the key element of achieving successful growth is in building the right team. Here at Predictable Success we've uncovered the precise combination of 4 specific leadership styles needed to move through each one of the 7 growth stages in the growth Lifecycle. Here's how those styles show up in Death Rattle:


Every successful entity has a Visionary - someone who thinks at the 30,000' level and sets the overall strategy and direction. Visionaries leave the organization if it stays too long in stage 5, Treadmill.

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The Operator


Operators - ruthless finishers who get things done - need a partnership with Visionaries in order to thrive, so they leave shortly after them, certainly by the time the entity is in stage 6, The Big Rut.

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The Processor


Processors install and maintain systems, policies and procedures and are left alone in Death Rattle to design, manage and orchestrate the organization's demise by sale of assets or winding up.

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The Synergist


Synergists help avoid internal conflict, but as conflict essentially disappears when the Visionary & Operators leave, there's nothing for them to facilitate or reconcile, and so they too leave in The Big Rut.

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ARE YOU TRULY SERIOUS ABOUT avoiding Death Rattle?

We can't help you if you're actually in Death Rattle - but we can help you avoid it if you're not there yet.

By far the most successful way to avoid falling in to Death Rattle is to enroll in The Predictable Success Acceleration Program - a proven, time-tested, highly cost-effective Program that will not only ensure you never fall in to Death Rattle, it will be your constant guide and companion to get you into (and stay in) Predictable Success:

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