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快公司如何破解速生速死的诅咒

快公司如何破解速生速死的诅咒

这个月,成百上千心怀抱负的创业者参加了西南偏南大会(SXSW),为自己的初创公司寻找资金。有些人会成功,并继续创建增长迅速、前途无限的公司。但多数公司无法长久。

考夫曼基金会(The Kauffman Foundation)和《Inc.》杂志( Inc. Magazine),对五至八年前曾经入选该杂志5000家增长最快的公司榜单的公司,进行了一次后续调查。调查结果令他们大吃一惊:曾经上榜的公司当中,有近三分之二遭遇了规模缩水、破产歇业或低价出售。

原因何在?因为他们未能成功渡过企业成熟度的第四个也是最后一个阶段——即公司最终实现自我维持。

在第一个阶段,初创公司为自己的想法找到真实的客户。在第二个阶段,他们确立流程,以可靠的方式交付产品和寻找新客户。《Inc.》杂志榜单内的5000家公司几乎全都成功通过了前两个阶段,因为如果没有确立基本流程,它们可能根本无法维持该榜单要求的高增长速度。

而在第三个阶段出现了新的挑战。要实现财务上的可行性,企业必须依靠更为成熟的流程,不能再依靠某个人的特殊才能,将公司命运交给某个人来决定。但即便公司成功渡过了第三个阶段,多数公司依旧无法解决第四阶段的核心挑战:创建新的流程,为新客户开发全新的产品。如果没有对自身进行持续改造的流程,一家公司会逐渐与市场脱节,最终走向失败。

这些增长最快的公司的领导者,通常会犯下面一种或多种错误:

 公司日常运营的某些方面,依旧离不开他们;

 错误地假设实现财务可行性便是创业的终点;

 仅将研发用于对现有的工艺和产品进行渐进式的改善;

 收购具有创新力的公司,却将创新人才赶走。

如果领导层能够有意识地创造一种文化,同时重视创新与效率这两个相互矛盾的理念,便可以避免这些错误。

当然,对于有些公司而言,说起来容易做起来难,因为它们一直依赖流程的效率,来获得快速增长所带来的短暂的情绪高潮。公司要开发新产品、拓展新市场,就必须进行创新,但与创新有关的风险和干扰,似乎与迄今为止给公司带来成功的经营理念背道而驰。

注重效率与增长的公司文化,无法承受创新所带来的风险,除非有一位强势的领导者,能够提出一个激动人心的愿景,描绘基于创新实现的长期成功,并且能够说服关键利益相关者。长期生存与繁荣,需要一位领导者创建一种公司文化,对于带来效率和带来创新的员工,给予同样的奖励。这样的领导者非常罕见,这也是许多公司增长失速并最终陷入衰退的原因。凡事预则立。(财富中文网)

本文作者德里克•李都是iSuppli公司创始人和前任CEO,著有《初创公司领导力》(Startup Leadership)。他目前在普林斯顿大学教授创业、创新与创造力课程。

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of aspiring entrepreneurs show up this month at the SXSW festival in search of funding for their startups. Some will succeed and go on to create fast-growing, promising companies.Most of those companies won’t last.

The Kauffman Foundation and Inc. Magazineconducted a follow-up study of companies five to eight years after they had appeared on the magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies. What they found was startling: about two-thirds of the companies that made the list had shrunk in size, gone out of business, or been disadvantageously sold.

Why? Because they failed to make it through the fourth and final stage of enterprise maturity, where a company finally becomes self-sustaining.

In stage one, startups find a real customer for their idea. In stage two, they establish processes for reliably delivering their product and for finding new customers. Virtually all Inc. 5000 companies are past stage two since, without basic processes in place, they would have been unable to sustain the high growth rates required to make the list.

In stage three, new challenges appear. To become financially viable, the enterprise must rely upon even more sophisticated processes, and it can no longer risk having the company’s fortunes depend upon the special talents of any one person. Even having successfully passed this point, most enterprises are then unable to solve the central challenge of stage four: creating processes for developing entirely new products for new customers. Without processes in place to continuously reinvent itself, a company is on a slow trajectory to irrelevance and failure.

Typically, leaders of our fastest-growing companies make one or more of these mistakes:

 Remain essential to the day-to-day execution of some aspect of running the company

 Falsely assume that financial viability is the end of the journey

 Use R&D to produce only incremental improvement to existing processes and products

 Acquire innovative companies and then drive their innovative talent away

Ultimately, these are all failures of leadership that can be avoided by consciously creating a culture that simultaneously values the competing ideals of innovation and efficiency.

Of course, this is easier said than done in companies that rely upon the efficiency of their processes to achieve the fleeting emotional highs that come with rapid growth. The risks and distractions associated with the innovations required to develop entirely new products and markets seem to run counter to what has brought success to that point. A culture dedicated to efficiency and growth will not tolerate these risks unless a strong leader has an exciting vision of long-term success based upon innovation that critical stakeholders find convincing. Long-term survival and prosperity requires a leader who can also craft a culture that rewards equally those who bring efficiency and those who innovate. Such leaders are rare and that is why so many companies see their growth evaporate and decline. Forewarned is forearmed.

Derek Lidow is the author of “Startup Leadership” and teaches entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity at Princeton. He was the founder and former CEO of iSuppli Corporation.

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