How can companies succeed over time? To learn the source of enduring greatness, author Christian Stadler directed a team of eight researchers in a six-year study of some of Europe's oldest and most stellar companies, targeting nine that have survived for more than 100 years and have significantly outperformed the market over the past fifty years. Readers may wonder, "Why European companies?" Yet Europe is the ideal place to seek the key to long-term success; half of the Fortune Global 500 companies that are 100 years old or older can be found in Europe, as can 72 of the 100 oldest family businesses in the world.
This special issue of Harvard Business Review, Managing for the Long Term, contains three full-length articles. First, Paul Saffo says the goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present. Next, Neil Howe and William Straus discuss how tracking generations' marches through time lends order and predictability to long-term trends. Also, Christian Stadler reveals what separates great companies from the merely good.
When a company is doing well, how would anyone know if it could improve? Learn about a landmark benchmarking study - comparing prosperous companies with firms that have done even better - that points the way.