I ran across the phrase “devastating success” in an old article called The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know. It’s about the impact of Wal-Mart’s pricing policies on the companies that supply them with merchandise. The complete sentence was “For Vlasic, the gallon jar of pickles became what might be called a devastating success.”
I love the way this simple phrase expresses a fairly complex concept – to achieve what you set out to accomplish, but in so doing, ending up worse off than you were before. I’ve seen this happen, and I’ve generally described the phenomenon as “they failed by succeeding”. But I think devastating success is so much more elegant.
(Thanks, Jason, for pointing me to the article.)