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When big, steady growth is the ‘law’

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In his latest book, management thinker Jim Collins tried to get at how com­panies thrive amid chaos.

Some winners cut against common wisdom. For example, the medical equipment maker Stryker set purely financial benchmarks.

As Stryker’s CEO starting in 1977, John Brown demanded 20% net income growth every year. In his words, this was “the law.”

Brown gave the “Snorkel Award” to laggards. Those who hit their targets went to the annual chairman’s breakfast. The rest went to another breakfast.

“They are well fed,” he said, “but it is not the one where you want to go.”

If your division lagged two years in a row, Brown came to help, working around the clock to get you back on track. Excuses didn’t wash.

By the same token, Brown took care not to grow Stryker too fast in boom years. That steady pace got him his growth rate more than 90% of the time.

— Adapted from Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, HarperBusiness.

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