Senior Partner & Managing Director
In Thoroughbred racing, only a few pull out ahead and finish in the money; the rest run with the pack. There are winners, and there are also-rans.
It’s the same in business. There can only be one biggest or best. A few others might give the leader a run for its money. The rest are left behind.
The Boston Consulting Group has been helping companies outrun the competition for 50 years. One thing we have stressed throughout our history is that there are no permanent victories. You have to run your heart out every day.
Consider the following statistics. Of the top 100 U.S. companies in terms of annual revenues in 1963, the year BCG was founded, more than 40 percent were gone from the Fortune 100 list 25 years later. Some had collapsed in bankruptcy. Some had been subsumed through mergers and acquisitions. Others had been broken up. And others, failing to keep pace, slipped or fell behind. Today, even more of 1963’s Fortune 100 are gone. And nearly two dozen companies are on the list that didn’t even exist in 1963.
The trend continues. Of the 100 top-grossing companies on Fortune’s Global 500 list in 2005, for example, 11 were no longer among the top 100 by 2012. Or consider Asia's Fab 50, which Forbes has published since 2005. The companies are ranked by market value and must be less than 50 percent state owned to be included. Of the original Fab 50 from 2005, only five were still on the list last year.
All this points to another lesson we’ve stressed during our half-century of business: if you want to own the future, you have to start now.
So, if the game is changing, what are the new rules? Enumerating them is the purpose of our new book, Own the Future: 50 Ways to Win from The Boston Consulting Group.
The book’s core message is that today’s leaders need to up their game if they aspire to pull away from the pack. In the face of an environment of accelerating change—of what some are calling the most radical restructuring of the global economy since the Industrial Revolution—bold transformational moves may make more sense than incremental fine-tuning. Based on BCG's 50 years of practice, the book enumerates 50 ideas that we feel will empower upstarts and inspire leaders to new heights—and it lays out ten characteristics critical to an organization's success today.
So what qualities characterize the organizations that will be among the top five, 10 and 25 years from now? Businesses—as well as many nonprofits and governmental agencies—need to be:
Building these characteristics into your organization’s DNA doesn’t guarantee success—but it will significantly improve your odds. Business, like horse racing, is a mixture of genetics, circumstance, and training. You can’t do much about the first two, but you can prepare your organization to face change with skill, wisdom, and daring. You can build the capabilities needed for foresight and experimentation. You can empower your teams and foster greater agility in your organization. You can work to shape developments in your industry in your favor. And with luck, you can change the game and own the future.