Longevity, in a business context, is a relative concept. Some industries (such as professional services, private banking, insurance, and luxury watches) more naturally incline to long time frames, particularly when customer trust is of high importance. In other industries (such as technology or fashion) the pace of change tends to be much faster and barriers to entry structurally much lower. A tech firm that survives for 15 years has, in a business sense, lasted as long as a consumer-product company that survives for 30. Longevity should be measured in innovation cycles, not years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, strategic-planning cycles and the concept of “strategic pacing” were much in vogue. I think it’s a shame that companies no longer focus on them to the same extent. Companies get into trouble—or the financial markets get unduly agitated or frustrated—when there is a mismatch between natural industry cycles and investor, customer, or even employee horizons. A primary task of strategic management is to define the relevant planning cycles and to think about how to manage from one to the next.

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