Companies, Stars and You can’t have it all
CEOs, entrepreneurs & boards all struggle with how to satisfy 1) shareholders, 2) staff and 3) customers.
It’s hard to do that really well. Indeed most companies, with some lifespan, probably make a reasonable first of keeping two, of those three, stakeholders happy. Now I reckon striking a balance and keeping all three stakeholders happy, and importantly maintaining that balance, is nigh impossible.
I could bore you with a long post trying to prove this via examples.
Rather I’m going to can explain it conceptually, as a three-sided hill, looking like this from above.
Companies that gravitate to satisfying investors/shareholders and users/customers tend to expand (very fast in the case of VC fuelled growth), get well-known, achieve success for a (relatively) short while then, so often, fade from view: Let’s call them supernovae. Think MySpace or Boo.com, one of 10 failures you never heard of or forgot about. OK, the analogy is imperfect (supernovae are the death knell of stars) but you get the drift.
Companies that look after their staff and customers well are more like stars: They often have a much longer life (like companies with a sustainable business) and have a more gradual start and end, when they burn out.
Indeed some stars turn into black holes and others get wiped about by supernovae.
You know it’s hard to keep a ball on top of a hill.
What do you think? Got some good examples? Perhaps you disagree with my broad thesis and can cite an example that disproves it.
Any comments are welcome. I don’t expect you, or anybody, to do so on this first substantive post, but go on surprise me.