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Longer-lived companies thus appear to create more value than fast-growing, short-lived ones. Shorter life spans and diminished lifetime value constitute a strong trend—but not an inevitability. The same can be said about the relationship between growth and mortality. Many CEOs intuitively sense the challenge of accelerated mortality. So what can corporations do now to strengthen their long-term resilience without undermining performance?

We have a number of suggestions based on our own research and the work of others on systems resilience. Detect early-warning signals. The bare-minimum condition that will enable a company to adjust to changing circumstances is an external orientation and an awareness of change signals and their significance. The dominant logic that sustains success in slow-moving environments can easily become a mental filter preventing corporations from seeing threats to their viability.

Similarly, when a company focuses on rapid change in a volatile environment, it can easily miss more slowly unfolding signals that indicate vulnerability in the longer term. Such an external orientation is as much about mind-set as it is about acquiring crucial information before it is too late. Adapt your strategy to your environment.

Imperative to safeguarding the future is surviving the present. Our research confirms that companies that match their strategic approach to their specific environment survive with the highest total lifetime value. Run and reinvent.

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Environments are not only more diverse, they are also more dynamic than they were in the past, meaning that circumstances change much more rapidly and unpredictably. It is therefore essential not only to get the match right between the situation and the approach to strategy and execution, but also to ensure that the company can regularly retune itself to changing situations.

Most companies today need to both run and reinvent themselves continuously, in each part of their business. Aim for resilience on all time scales. While immediate business risks should not go unaddressed, increasing dynamism across industries may have caused many companies to adopt an excessively short-term focus. This is reflected in the recent emphasis on achieving agility and adaptability, as well as in the growing tendency to assess leaders in terms of annual or even quarterly performance. While all these measures promote short-term survival, they can also lead to the neglect of longer-term horizons.

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Our research shows that companies need to be resilient on all time scales. While company life span is an indicator of total lifetime value, simply enduring does not guarantee increased value creation. A successful exit may be better than languishing and slowly burning up resources. How can leaders ensure resilience well beyond their own tenures in the face of circumstances that cannot be anticipated? In the longer term, the key lies in building the right sort of governance model.

We have identified four key governance principles that promote longevity:. Against an increased risk of accelerated mortality, leaders who think on multiple time scales—and make sure that their organizations do, too—can defy the odds and ensure longevity and prosperity for their enterprises. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business.


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Choose your location to get a site experience tailored for you. Contracting Corporate Life Spans To investigate corporate survival and death, we focused on companies exiting the public-company pool—whether owing to bankruptcy or liquidation, merger or acquisition, or other causes. Notes: 4. Exit years correspond either to the database deletion date or to the last recorded instance of income or revenues.

Exits occurred between and , as no exits were recorded by Compustat in the first 15 years of the study. So what malady has quietly befallen the corporation? Notes: 5. Research described in a recent paper Daepp et al. Given the nature of the data set, we believe that a longitudinal approach allows for more nuanced insights. Surprisingly, however, our research shows that the surge in mortality risk is widespread: There are no safe harbors. Mortality risk grew relatively uniformly across all sectors of the economy.

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Only the past decade saw a slight divergence in outcomes: traditionally stable oligopolies such as the oil and gas industry recovered the most, while mortality remains high in more dynamic industries such as technology. Neither scale nor experience is a safeguard. Mortality risk also grew for companies of all sizes and ages. While smaller companies have always faced greater risk, even the largest companies are now facing higher exit rates.

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Company age only began to affect exit risk in the first decade of the s, when turnover plateaued for older companies but continued to grow among younger ones. Notes: 6. Leaders around the globe are beginning to catch on to this trend. So What Happened? These companies had a more than 25 percent higher risk of failure compared with the average company—likely owing to poorer quality a lower bar for entry , few buffers against failure lack of resources , and intense peer pressure the smallest companies faced the highest competitive density.

There must be soft words for an evening like this, when the breeze caresses like gentle fingertips all over. We meant nothing but hope; how near death is to that. Only children, only some children, get to run free from these snags. She was born! She lived and she grows like joy spreading from the syllables of songs. She reminds me of now and now and now. I must learn to have been so lucky. I was afraid the past would catch up with me, would find this new house too like the scarred old childhood home. A tree casts soft and gentle shade over our green yard.

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My little traumas are just souvenirs of other lives, of places I might have once visited. The big sun rises early here, as I do, with everyone. Materials for Teachers Materials for Teachers Home. Poems for Kids. Poems for Teens. Lesson Plans. Teach this Poem.

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    Poems Find and share the perfect poems. Another Day. It should be difficult, always difficult, rising from bed each morning, against gravity, against dreams, which weigh like the forgotten names of remembered faces.

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    Immortality I feel like Emily Dickinson did, running her pale finger over each blade of grass, then caressing each root in the depths of the earth's primeval dirt, each tip tickling heaven's soft underbelly. About this poem: "This poem comes from a series of prose poems about 'big ideas' written during a period when I was having trouble writing. To get the juices flowing again, I thought I'd try starting with titles, with big abstract concepts, and see where they led.