Built Not to Last

I recently came across some interesting nuggets in the Fast Company archives (a treasure trove of ahead-of-their-time business articles) on the necessity of “creative destruction.” Some sound bites …

In “The Death of Corporate Permanence,” Adam Hanft says, “The free market tells us that bankruptcy can be a good thing, in the way that the death of an old tree allows younger ones under its oppressive canopy to grow … We’ve experienced what can only be called the Death of Permanence; what remains to be seen is the way the new Economy of the Evanescent will influence our business and even personal interactions.”

In the article “Built to Flip,” Christina L Darwell says, “Increasingly, successful businesses will be ephemeral. Instead of being built to last, they will be built to yield something of value—and once that value has been exhausted, they will vanish.”

In the same piece Gary Sutton adds, “The problem with Built to Last is that it’s a romantic notion. Large companies are incapable of ongoing innovation, of ongoing flexibility. Companies that are built to last forever usually find out too late that the world has changed right under their noses. … Nothing lasts forever, and one attribute of sustainability is knowing when your time has come.”

Exciting stuff (to me anyway). [Note from Cathy: You might recognize these as quotes Tom himself has used. It’s no surprise to us that a long-term denizen of Tom Peters Company picked the same ones.]

But these quotes raise a few questions. Many readers of both this website and Fast Company are entrepreneurs, small business owners, and consultants who live in the service economy. But what about the manufacturing world? For those of you who are Change Agents in the industrial sector, how do you sell “Destroy to Create,” “Cherish Impermanence,” and “Make a Quick Exit”? How does “destroy it before your competition does” go over in manufacturing environments that take pride in their history and longevity? Let’s talk.

John OLeary posted this on April 24, 2007, in Strategies.
Bookmark and Share