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A fourteenth century proverb "From little acorns do mighty oaks grow" beautifully encapsulates the aspirations of business managers and investors all around the globe. But growth is not inevitable. Statistically the odds are stacked against sustainable (profitable) growth. A study of the top 1,000 listed companies in the United States over four decades between 1960 to 2004 by Professor Gregory Hackett, (formerly a benchmarking guru and Professor at Kent State University, Ohio), makes uncomfortable reading. Around eighty percent of companies are either stagnating or declining. Worst still, the rate of decline is accelerating with companies failing three times faster than they were more than 30 years ago.
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