When companies go bad slowly


Many companies start with the best of intentions, to serve their customers, and to build the best possible product and to be the best at what they do.

Slowly, however, something happens to them. Initially, the change is small, insignificant, and doesn’t hurt anyone. One thing leads to another and before you can see it, there is a slow downward spiral of changes that push the company to mediocrity.

The pressure to perform and increase revenues means lofty goals and ideals typically fall to the wayside on the way to increased profitability. Increased company size also waters down the ideals of the original founders to a point that it just remains a poster on the wall that no one notices any more.

In general, every company goes through these growth phases and there is nothing wrong in working towards maximizing profit. In a capitalistic economy, it is survival of the fittest and if that means they have to keep increasing cash flow, etc, that is no knock against them.

What matters more is if the original intention has changed. If it has changed or if the original goals are no longer considered important then they go bad albeit slowly.

Take the case of Google, when they started, they were an exceptional search engine because their algorithms were so good in returning relevant results it made other search engines like Alta Vista or Yahoo! look quaint.

You went to google if you wanted the best results and to *really* find what you were looking for.

Just to compare, see how the search results page looks like right now, see if you can spot where Ads stop and real results begin. How is this list of results the best possible product Google can provide to their customer?

Somewhere along the way, teams are deciding to subvert what it means to be the best search engine on the planet to be just another spammy product that only wants to sell me more things. The utility is definitely lost.

I didn’t mean to pick on Google here but just used them as a well-known example of a company that seems to be losing their way.

As a customer using a company’s product, this change might not immediately be apparent. But the intention will be felt. Slowly but surely the warm and fuzzy feelings are gone and it leaves the door open for new companies to swoop in and take business away.

So does it mean that every company is doomed to this cycle of becoming worse over time? Not necessarily. With clear effort and a conscious decision to stick to their core values no matter what, companies can remain firm and resolute as they grow. This is hard work and very difficult and yes, you might not grow as fast as possible, but you will always remain true to the Northstar that always keeps you going.

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