Last September, the blog noted ‘4 tips for survival in the New Normal’. Now, 3 years of research by a team of UK and Dutch academics has identified companies that have achieved almost uninterrupted success over a 20 year period, and asked senior executives about their experience.
As summarised by Stefan Stern in the Financial Times, corporate survival over the longer-term depends on 4 key areas:
• Continuity. The company reinvents its business model as markets change, but doesn’t try to follow every new trend.
• Anticipation. New leaders are able to re-shape the future business, not forced to continue with the policies that brought success in the past.
• Disagreement. People are actively encouraged to challenge current thinking. Constructive argument, without the politics, is vital.
• Meritocracy. A flexible recruitment policy is essential, that puts the best person in the job, whether or not they have been in post longest.
The study completely accepts that alignment and focus on operational issues are critical to short-term success. But it concludes that these strengths alone will not keep the business alive over the longer-term. Companies whose culture can tolerate genuine debate, and who then effectively implement its conclusions, are the ones that survive.