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Is it Autumn for Your Company?

Posted by on November 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm


The word “autumn” conjures up a number of different meanings for me: the colorful fall foliage, the flickering light from a jack-o’-lantern, and the smell of hot apple cider.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, autumn not only represents the “season of the year between summer and winter,” but it also refers to “a period of maturity verging on decline.” Now that tends to put a negative spin on an otherwise delightful word in my book, but unfortunately it could be a term to describe some Fortune 500 companies.

Like the verge of decline that some of us may feel with each passing birthday (not me, of course), some seemingly successful companies of a certain age may already be in a gradual descent. And they may not even know it yet. In fact, the lay-offs and cut-backs made over the last year in response to the economic crisis may be masking decline that is already well underway for some companies.

Decline could be the result of not moving quickly enough to respond to a changing marketplace or a more innovative competitor. It could be the result of reductions in research needed to spur promising new products or services. It could be from a decrease in spending on high quality employee and manager training. Or it could be the result of an executive team that has paused too long to enjoy the fruits of yesterday’s harvest. Or, it could be all of the above.

Mature companies which lose focus and drive are destined to lose ground on the competition. Such lost ground over time could indeed prove fatal.

Corporate leaders must constantly challenge themselves and their teams. They must regularly retool and reinvest in their employees–and their company’s future.

In doing so, you’ll likely chase off those pesky autumnal goblins, and increase your chances for a more profitable season.