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Sustenance is underrated yet more important

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Suresh Mohan Semwal - Co-founder, POSSIBLERS, HR Consulting

14-Jul-2021

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Would you rather build a company that looms large then disappears or a relatively obscure one that lasts for a long time? I’d go for the latter, as sustenance require more efforts than creativity. How about you?

I am sure you know that Facebook has more members than total population of USA.

There are some corporations which look like greater than anything and everything around them. However, success can indeed be fleeting as they say, so one must wonder if today’s successful companies will become not so successful in distant future and loose their charisma. I don’t need to give examples of how giants have fallen in the past. So, is current profitability, employee strength, culture or turnover is the right or only criteria to measure the success of a good company? Is longevity also a criterion? Well, to my mind, it does. For me, becoming successful can also be a fluke, but to remain successful in long run requires lot more than just one good business idea. Sustenance requires more effort than creation.

I have seen many bubbles getting created and getting busted too. We see it all around us in almost all fields. Whether, it is in sports, movies, politics, business or spirituality; many enter but few stay. Even in relationships, forming is the easiest part but maintaining cordial relationships is the hardest job to do. Isn’t it?

Speaking of time and staying in power, there is a company that has been around for quite some time. It has been in existence for over 1,400 years. Surprised? Well, google it. Kongo Gumi Construction is a Japanese Buddhist temple construction company that was founded in 578.  Its founder was a Korean who came over to Japan and started his own company.

What makes this company unique is it is family owned and run. Keeping family harmony and the desire to move forward must have been some feat. The company has experienced great events in the history of Japan. Buddhism was introduced less than 50 years before the company started, many ruling dynasties came and went, the ninjas, the samurais, two world wars, and Japan reign of being a global economic power. This company saw it all.Among the company’s traits is its flexibility, the company head need not be the eldest son, it can even be a daughter or a son-in-law. It’s just not about blood but also about leadership capability.  The company stayed focused on temple construction though it made coffins during World War II and has gone into apartment and other building constructions.

Seeing an opportunity in the booming Japanese real estate sector in the 80s, it borrowed heavily and got caught when the bubble burst in the 90s. Saddled with heavy debt and with less demand in temple building, the company was forced to become a subsidiary of Takamatsu Construction Group in 2006. Takamatsu was founded in 1917. Will this company have its own 1,400 year run? I don’t know.

I have a very special regard for TATA Group of my country India, who has been doing ethical business successfully for the last 150 years and getting stronger day by day. The promoters may not be featuring in Top 10-20 richest men in world or flaunting their wealth but they definitely hold a high regard in the hearts of billion Indians at least. One of most trusted and respected brand in India and worldwide.

Would you rather build a company that looms large then disappears or a relatively obscure one that lasts for a long time? I’d go for the latter, as sustenance require more efforts than creativity. How about you?

“Sustenance requires more effort than creating.” Suresh Mohan Semwal