Grow During Hard Times

Historically, greater changes in competitive position have been achieved in times of uncertainty than during a steady or improving environment.

While it may be tempting to play defense it is precisely during difficult times that a renewed will to win and well-calculated offence can deliver the most benefits.

True growth companies do not view themselves as cyclical. Nor do they accept cyclical downward adjustments to their growth expectations. They simply recognize that when conditions change, strategies and tactics must also change.

Companies have headed toward stagnation when management lowered growth expectations or backed away from the commitment to grow. Growth is not always linear, but it should be a constant requirement.

During our most recent fiscal year, when some companies were cutting back, we increased R&D spending by 16%. That investment pays off: about two-thirds of our revenues come from products or therapies introduced during the past two years.

The will to grow and the will to win are inextricably linked. Growth companies are highly competitive; they hate losing. But since true winning is measured over time, a quick, apparent victory that sacrifices the future isn't winning at all.

The will to win has a flip side: not giving up when you are temporarily behind. Staying in the game until a new product can be introduced or until an investment has had a chance to pay off is acritical ingredient in long-term success.
Art Collins, CEO of Medtronic

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