3 A Rainbow of Growth and Despair

For every business there exists a wonderful rainbow of growth and opportunity. At the end of this rainbow, however, lies not a pot of gold, but decline, despair and demise — in the form of the Inevitable Kraken of Doom. *cue thunder and lightning*

In his 2015 outgoing speech as the CEO of Cisco (a multinational technology company), John Chambers delivered a dire warning to the 25 000 attendees — ‘40 per cent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years.' He went further, adding that 70 per cent of companies will attempt to go digital, but only 30 per cent will be successful.

Now, a heap of ‘doom and gloom' warnings go out to businesses — and particularly to leaders within large organisations. But this one is worth paying attention to. Before retiring, Chambers had to lead one of the most painful transitions in the company's history (including moving from 62 business units to 18 focused divisions that worked together). Chambers stressed, ‘We had to tie together our silos, we had to change our culture … we had to change, or we would have been left behind.'

And you can find plenty of examples of companies that have been left behind. In 2011, IBM turned 100 — a remarkable achievement. To celebrate their relative resilience and highlight just how much had changed in that period of time, IBM ran ads in ...

Get How To Lead A Quest now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.