Sunday, April 17, 2005

How long does it take for a company to die?

In the recent demise of Rover MG in the UK, some may forget that just one of its predecessor companies was once the third largest car company in the world. Companies are born, grow to maturity and die much like humans. Companies start to die far before others recognize their trajectory. It is becoming clear that Ford and GM are well along in that process. When did it begin? It started for both quite a few years ago. Similarly, there are other companies which have started the process of dying even as Wall Street lauds their performance. We can be fairly sure that any of the Fortune 500 will not be around in ten years, and most will not be around in twenty or so.

Yet companies do not have to die. Procter & Gamble is over 175 years old. It never rests on its laurels and constantly questions and re-invents itself. Others can do this, but rarely does the culture at the top encourage this.

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