Photo: Chevanon Photo. Source: Pexels
We have an older dog. Not that old, mind you. But getting there. She doesn’t have the same level of energy she used to. She sleeps more. When I get up early in the morning, she used to come over and lick my hand and ask for a treat. Now she ambles off down the hall to find a dark bedroom where she can get a little more shuteye.
The kids have been on us to get a puppy. They say it would add some energy around the place. They’re right about that. Noise, too. As our children have grown and headed off to college and beyond, the house has certainly gotten quieter. A puppy could take a shine to our older dog, and she’d have to get used to the extra motion and activity. Or she’d have to hide.
A similar thing can happen to companies. They get old and stuck in their ways. The world changes, but they keep doing the same thing. They feel good about how business has been going, they’re wearing their relaxed-fit jeans. I once heard a manager complain that he didn’t know why he was unprofitable now, he’d been doing the same thing for 50 years. That was his problem.
Businesses need to be multi-generational, with younger folks and more experienced hands, workers with innovative drive and ambition as well as those who’ve seen initiatives come, go, and get revised and recycled. Change isn’t any good if it’s just window dressing that hides the rot. But standing still isn’t helpful when you’re downwind from a wildfire consuming everything in its path.
Photo: Andrea Booher. Source: FEMA
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes you can spur one into action. That’s what’s behind a lot of merger activity: a legacy company may have a successful franchise and lots of cash, but the firm is growing stale. Growth may have slowed or even stopped. The younger partner has potential and drive and innovation, but they don’t have the resources they need to grow. Maybe they can work better together.
Sometimes a puppy can put some new life into an older dog. But that assumes the old dog wants to get moving again.
Photo: Brigitte Werner. Source: Pixabay
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”