Christian Stadler


On his book Enduring Success: What We Can Learn from the History of Outstanding Corporations

Cover Interview of February 07, 2011

In a nutshell

In Enduring Success I address a key question in business today: How can companies succeed over time?

I argue that companies are able to adapt to a constantly changing environment by being intelligently conservative.  Which contrasts the widely held belief that great companies succeed because they are pioneering innovators that place bold bets on great ideas.

The argument unfolds in layers.

First, I describe what companies that succeeded for at least 100 years did differently from others.  My main argument is that they made sure that their strategy and organizational setup fit the environment of their business.

Second, I explain how these companies did this consistently over time.  I develop five principles, stressing the importance of keeping reserves for difficult times, investing in several ideas and businesses rather than a single one, making the most of existing knowledge rather than permanently chasing new insights, developing mechanisms to learn from past mistakes, and being sensitive to the culture of a company when it needs to change.

Third, I elaborate on the characteristics of an intelligently conservative leader.  I argue that, similar to a soccer coach, intelligently conservative leaders create winning teams by providing appropriate incentive structures, sufficient training, and occasionally substituting a player. They cannot score the goals themselves.

I am aware that the notion that you survive radical environmental changes by being intelligently conservative is counterintuitive.  Therefore, I take great care in developing my argument.  I provide a detailed description of the data I use and how I analyzed the information I gathered.  All the chapters are carefully referenced, and I also devote one chapter to a comparison of my ideas with other work on long-term success.