The ABCs Of Business Decay

Warren Buffett is 86 years old and is CEO of one of the most successful businesses of modern times Berkshire Hathaway. Because he’s older, he is frequently asked about his successor. Buffett, who has said he won’t resign until the right time, had this to say last year about the still nameless replacement.

“My successor will need one other particular strength: the ability to fight off the ABCs of business decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency. When these corporate cancers metastasize, even the strongest of companies can falter.”

Buffett’s ABC’s resonate with me:

Remarkable performance is a combination of things: talent, team work, hard work, favorable market conditions and some luck. Arrogant leaders and arrogant teams will make the mistake of believing that their success was all about them and their ability.

Confidence is admirable. Mix that in with some humility that reminds us that we aren’t ever as good as the results achieved nor as bad, we have have a chance of not failing because of arrogance.

Bureaucracy can plague a growing company. Conversations get replaced by emails and forms. Though success may cause us to grow, we need to fight bureaucracies that rob us of prompt decisions, agile action and urgency to progress. Be on alert. Let’s stay human and responsive.

Complacency will bind us too. They say sports teams find it hard to repeat as champions. Egos get inflated. The hard work which got the team to the top is forgotten in the sea of adulation that success can bring.

A new year or new season calls for a searching inventory of each person and each team. We each have to be reminded about what success looks like and what it takes to achieve it.
Complacency says “we’re the best, there’s nothing more for us to do to win.” Champions know that’s not how it works. For better days to be achieved, fresh purposeful efforts will need to come forth.

Let’s fight the ABC’s and make 2016 our best year yet.