Here's a question...do companies live forever or are they just as mortal as us human beings?
Chances are, like me you've never really thought about it as most big companies seem to keep going and many have been around for as long as we have. Have to admit then, I was pretty surprised when I first read this statistic published by Deloittes which relates to many of the world's biggest companies.
"The average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years, less than half a century ago, to less than 15 years today". (Deloitte Shift Index - Richard Foster)
Fifteen years! That's all the worlds big companies can expect, on average, to be around for!? That's astounding really and reflects the fact that if an organisation doesn't fully embrace change, ongoing, all-the-time and accept it as not only inevitable, but something to be relished and encouraged, then the game could well be up pretty soon. Of course many of these 'disappearances' could be merger and acquisition related but again reinforcing that change is constant.
Does this prove that the rate of company, product, or service redundancy in our world, is increasing at a pace we have yet to fully comprehend? Deloitte say "The world around us is changing. Long-term trends, driven by public policy and the exponential rate of change in the digital infrastructure, are fundamentally altering the global business environment." I'm sure we all feel this now - nothing is sacred.
Do you think ten years ago, anyone in the taxi industry would have thought that tech company Uber could steal such a large piece of their industry from them?
This surely means every organisation needs to 'fundamentally alter' the way they think and operate. And I would say the ability to rapidly change mindsets to foster innovation, is the biggest challenge facing any organisation. (Here's an interesting piece on why IBM has survived for so long Why Did IBM Survive? - Forbes). And like everything in the business world today, it all comes down to culture.
So, is your organisation ready to reinvent itself, or in need of an undertaker?