With so many companies 'dying young', it is important to ask how we can improve the resilience and longevity of organisations. Here are some of the ideas I've absorbed after many years in business. Some of them go against the received thinking of the past, but they are at last becoming mainstream.
We need to change our views on profit
Milton Friedman was wrong. If we're trying to build for the long-term, then the purpose of business should not be to focus on profit above all else. And it certainly shouldn't be to profit from causing problems elsewhere.
The purpose of business should be to find profitable solutions to the world's problems.
Profit is a just reward, not the goal.
We need to change our views on creating value
Businesses that focus on cost minimisation fail to get the best results from their employees and suppliers.
Enlightened businesses seek to create value for all stakeholders, not just the providers of capital.
By finding mutual benefits with suppliers, employees, customers and others, we can build fruitful long-term relationships.
We need to understand what strategy really is
Ambition is not a strategy. Setting targets is not a strategy. Exhorting people to try harder is not a strategy.
A strategy is a hypothesis about how to solve a challenge.
In organisations this means choosing the right challenge, figuring out how to solve it, and then co-ordinating effort. It calls for hard choices and sacrifice. This has to be thought through and articulated at a senior level.
We need to commit to a sense of purpose
Visions and missions are fine. Sometimes they fire people up, sometimes they don't.
But purpose is powerful. It requires us to identify and pursue a just cause - the beneficial impact we want to have on our customers or the wider world.
Armed with purpose, we can make better choices and attract stakeholders to get behind something genuinely motivating.