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At the ABM Annual Conference: Growing organizations vs. aging ones

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Amelia Island, Fla.—Organizations that are on their way to reaching their prime differ significantly from those that have passed theirs—and the key distinctions aren't chronological, consultant Ian MacDougall said Sunday in his opening keynote at American Business Media's Annual Conference here. MacDougall, founder and managing partner of Corporate LifeCycles, described four major attributes of prime organizations:
  • They produce results.
  • They administer.
  • They're entrepreneurial.
  • They integrate.
Companies that are growing tend to focus on results and entrepreneurship, while those that are aging put more emphasis on administration, MacDougall said. Integration is crucial to organizations that want to remain in their prime, MacDougall said. “It changes the consciousness of the organization,” he said, adding that integration provides the “last sustainable source of competitive advantage” in an era of commoditization. “What's the hardest thing for your competition to copy? Your culture,” he said, citing Southwest Airlines as an example. MacDougall gave several side-by-side comparisons of organizations “before prime” and “after prime.” These include:
  • In organizations that have yet to reach their prime “political power is in sales and marketing,” and “success comes to those who take risks.”
  • In organizations that have passed their prime, “political power is in accounting, finance and legal,” and “success comes to those who avoid risk.”
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