“建立一种作为人们生活中心的统一媒介，就像电话或者电视 …… 甚至比它们更有价值。”
"To build a global medium as central to people's lives as the telephone or television ... and even more valuable."
Thiswas Steve Case's vision in the early 1990s, and everyone wanted to be apart of it. The company he founded, America Online, was one of thenation's most admired. By turning Internet access into a home utility,AOL became one of the nation's most admired brands and workplaces. Itwas the Google or the Facebook of its time.
Thensomething happened. In as many years as it took AOL to achieve suchremarkable success and influence, it lost it. The company that boughtTime Warner--one of the oldest, most venerable media conglomerates thatexisted--became just another publicly held behemoth trying to make thequarter. AOL no longer leads America on any new quests. It isn'tchanging anything about how we live our lives. Few people are clamoringto work there. Worse, having an @aol.com e-mail address, something thatused to mean you were on the cutting edge, now just suggests you areold.
然而令人吃惊的是，AOL的起起落落并非一个意外，而是一种规律。许多公司都取得了成功，一少部分甚至取得了伟大的成功。但是没有任何一个公司能在成功的位置呆太长时间，特别是当其充满魅力的领导人出售或者离开公司之后。当创始人离开后，中小公司常常要面对一段时间的停滞和挣扎，而即使大型的公司机构也无可避免地会面对业绩下滑。其实这种衰退是如此之普遍，以至于IchakAdizes博士将之写进了关于公司生命周期的著作中 - "在成熟和稳定之后，就会走下坡路"。
Amazingly,AOL's rise and decline is more of the rule than the exception. Manycompanies achieve success. A few achieve great success. But none seemto be able to stay on top of their game for a long period of time,particularly after a charismatic leader sells out, steps down or moveson. Small- or medium-sized businesses either plateau or struggle tosurvive the founder's departure. But larger, more establishedorganizations, also face an inevitable decline. In fact, this declineis such the norm that it has been memorialized by Dr. Ichak Adizes inhis work about corporate lifecycle. After maturity and stability, hedocuments, comes decline.
Microsoft, Polo Ralph Lauren,Apple和Starbucks就是几个面临创始人在最近(或者不远的将来)离去的案例。SouthwestAirlines也应该被加到这个名单里面。只要她的接任计划没有完成，作为引领这个组织的梦想家，HerbKeleher，就会暗中在新总裁的选举中发挥举足轻重的作用，以确保自己的愿景能被带入下一个十年。Google，Facebook这样的公司最终也会一样。别忘了，一二十年前，AOL和Microsoft和今日的Google们一样风光无限，那时的她们看起来如此有活力，似乎永不会停滞。当然这个结论也不是那么地绝对，如果我们能够理解创始人离开后我们失去的东西，我们就能理解这些公司为什么还能依旧保持伟大。
Companies such asMicrosoft, Polo Ralph Lauren, Apple and Starbucks are just a few thatface the recent exit of their founder/CEOs or will face that realitysoon. I'd even add Southwest Airlines to the list. As good as theirsuccession planning has been there, Herb Kelleher, the visionary behindthe organization, still lurks in the shadows and plays a significantrole in picking the presidents he believes can lead his vision into thenext decade. Eventually companies like Google and Facebook will follow.Don't forget, only a decade or two ago, AOL and Microsoft were theGoogles of their day. They were inspiring and seemingly unstoppable.But the seemingly inevitable decline does not have to be a forgoneconclusion. If we can understand what--besides the departure of thefounder--is lost, we can understand how these great companies canremain great.
成功的公司差不多都始于一个想法，一个由激情和对未来世界愿景推动的想法。就是创始人的梦想让商业公司充满了不断向前的能量。资金和经验对成功来说也许是有益的资产，但对伟大的公司而言，一开始她们并不具备这些东西。Apple, Microsoft, Google,AOL,Facebook和其它许许多多公司都是由二十几岁、既没钱也没大公司经验的年轻人创立的。所有的风投都会告诉你，创业公司中，绝大部分都失败了或者只取得了微不足道的成功，大获成功的永远只是极少数。就像心脏电击器的脉冲一样，是人们真挚的梦想把创业公司从白日梦变成了触手可得的东西。但激情和对未来的愿景也只能把公司带这么远。
Allsuccessful companies start the same way--with an idea. An idea drivenby passion, a vision of a world that could be. It is the founder'scrusade that gives a business its energy to get going. Money andexperience may be valuable assets to drive success, but in most casesthose things were not there at the beginning. Apple, Microsoft, Google,AOL, Facebook and many, many others were all started by 20-somethingswith no experience in big business and no deep pockets of money. And,as any venture capitalist will tell you, the number of failures ormarginal successes among startup companies greatly outnumber the homeruns. Like a shock from a defibrillator, a personal and visceralcrusade is what jump-starts a company from a daydream to somethingtangible. But passion and a vision of the future can only get a companyso far.
The reason the vast majority of new businessesflat-out fail in just a few years is that to bring a vision to life, acompany needs structure. Good systems and processes allow anorganization to thrive on something beyond the passion of one or twoindividuals. For those few founders who know how to build structure,their companies will not only survive; they will grow. But for astructure to continue to grow, that passionate crusade is still needed... and that is what leaves a company after its founder moves on.
With success, a company's leaders become obsessedwith what the results should be and how to get there--strategy andtactics--and they forget why the company was founded in the firstplace. The original strategies were developed to advance the cause andthe results measured the progress. When the cause is forgotten,strategies are developed only to advance the results. The vision andthe crusade simply go fuzzy. It seems so closely tied to a charismaticleader because the founder often serves as the living symbol of thecompany's cause. It is not the departure of the person that triggersthe decline, per se; it is the failure to properly articulate thatoriginal cause, the inability to extract the "Why" from the person andbuild it into the fabric of the company. What's more, a successorshould be there to advance the original cause and not try to redefineit. Attempting to change it only makes the matter worse.
For many successful entrepreneurs, the bighouse, fancy cars and big watch--the trappings of success-- are great,but many complain that it doesn't "feel" like it used to. For the feworganizations that are able to keep the passion and the cause aliveenough to grow to gigantic proportions, it is the ability to keep thatsense of purpose clear that eludes them. That's the feeling that'smissing. Regardless of the measurable success achieved, manyentrepreneurs long for that same excitement they had when they made afraction of the money and worked in a basement with a handful of theirfriends and people completely devoted to a common pursuit. When comingto work was more about the crusade. It was driven by "Why."
我上面提到的公司之所以有点危险，就在于它们的创始人最近已经或者在不远的将来将要离开：RalphLauren不可能把火炬永远举下去；Steve Jobs80年代中期被迫离开了Apple并开展竞争业务，他每次登上(产品发布的)舞台，都会让Apple的那些股东们背脊发麻；BillGates，一个献身于提升个人效率以释放人们潜力的乐观主义者，把注意力从大家桌面上的PC转到了克服疾病上，他希望通过帮助非洲和其它国家的人们战胜病魔来释放自己身上的潜力。Bill Gates的梦想并未改变，改变得只是实现这个梦想的途径。
Thereason the companies I mentioned before are all at risk is because theyall have founder/leaders who have either just left or will likely leavein the not-too-distant future. Ralph Lauren can't carry the torchforever. Steve Jobs left in the mid-eighties to the detriment of hiscompany and sends shivers down shareholders' spines every time he showsup on stage ten pounds lighter. Bill Gates, an optimist devoted tohelping people be more productive so they can achieve their greatestpotential, has decided to move on from "a PC on every desk" to helpingAfrica and other nations realize their own potential by overcomingdisease. His cause is the same. His market place and his products aredifferent.
And therein liesthe rub. Companies that are founded with a clear sense of a higherpurpose or cause exist to advance that cause, with time and success,inevitably lose that sense of purpose. With the loss of purpose, thecompany of crusaders become managers of the infrastructure. The numbersbecome more important than the founding purpose of the organization.The numbers are important--of course they are--but at the beginning,the numbers were proof that people wanted to have what you offered bybuying from you. Later, the money became the only reason to maintainthe business structure and the service to the customer became the valueadded or just part of the infrastructure.
Microsoft originally usedsoftware to help us all take advantage of the amazing new technologycalled the personal computer. Now they just want to sell us software.Starbucks at first gave us a place to spend time between work and home.Today we believe they just want to sell us coffee.
Applestill inspires us to stand up to the status quo. Polo teaches us thatif you look the part, we will become the part. We don't yet know whenthey will abandon using their products to advance their beliefs and ourlives in favor of just trying to sell us more products.
Toovercome this change in self-definition, systems must be built toremind all those inside and outside the company why the company wasfounded. What was the founding principle, purpose, cause or belief thatdrove the original passion, inspired the risk and helped overcome allthe obstacles, inexperience and missteps. Companies can most certainlysurvive their founders by reminding those inside and outside theorganization why the company was founded in the first place.
Thatsimple question--"Why?"--when answered in terms that go beyond theproducts sold or services rendered, give the customer a context for theproducts. That "why" is where value is perceived beyond price, quality,service and features ... the table stakes. Reminding those inside thecompany why the company exists gives employees a higher purpose to cometo work beyond simply doing a job for pay. This is the source ofpassion and innovation. The ability for a company, and moreimportantly, those who engage with the company, to have a clearunderstanding of "why" is what differentiates those that succumb to theodds and those that defy them.
2010-02-18 12:22 编辑：kuaileyingyu