The Future of Big Companies
Anita Sharpe on Business
It's hard to find a large company these days that isn't in some way trying to reinvent itself. Nearly every day the business pages are filled with stories about companies like Delta looking for a magic bullet -- almost always some form of financial engineering -- to cure their woes.
A few years ago, British economist/writer/professor Charles Handy took a hard look at the problem in his book, The Elephant and the Flea, and hit on a few things that big companies often overlook -- but are most likely the real keys to prosperity and longevity in this new era of business:
1. How to grow bigger, but remain small and personal.
2. How to combine creativity with efficiency.
3. How to be prosperous but also socially acceptable.
4. How to reward both the owners of the ideas as well as the owners of the company.
Handy points to BP as one company that's making some progress trying to refashion itself as Beyond Petroleum: 'A touch too good to be true, perhaps. . .but it is an indication that the new workforce wants a purpose for their time and their work that is more than increased shareholder value. They want to think that they are helping to make the world a better place. Companies can no longer buy respectability by a bit of philanthropy.'
The times are once-again a-changin', and the companies that figure it out first will emerge as the new leaders.