For Humans – Death is inevitable; there is no hiding from this truth. For Companies – Only the paranoids survive!

Well, it was a coincident that my previous blog was on death and the season of Ganesha festival (an Indian festival) arrived.  This Ganesh festival I had seriously thought about the Indian culture, festivities and the small – often overlooked – lessons. In India every good work starts with invoking Lord Ganesh, even prayers, pooja etc starts with first invoking lord Ganesh and then the other “main” pooja’s.

The festival of Ganesha is a period from Ganesh chaturthi to Ganesh Chaturdashi a ten day period often in September month. During this festival, families and societies bring idol of lord Ganesh, worship the idol and within a couple of days immerse the idol in water. Similar to what happens to us – we are born one day and would be cremated one day.

(source -

Visarjan procession in Mumbai

Every year we follow this cycle of birth and death with our God. A God revered so sincerely that every things starts with his name – Shri Ganeshay Namah. Hats-off to this culture which has this concept of death embedded in its roots so truthfully. I think we should understand that death is inevitable and learn some lessons. (The Buddha saw this once and started his quest.)

I started looking beyond my grieving moments and towards businesses. What I realized is that ‘the reality‘ of death applies to even companies too! As innovation consultants we used to share statistics on survival of companies. Out of Fortunes list of 1920’s and 30’s many companies do not exist now. Take an example of Kodak – a very innovative company –  filed for chapter 11 recently. If we just take Kodak as an example – Xerox was born out of Kodak’s lab. Xerox created such brand image that Photocopy became synonyms to Xerox. HP with its printing challenged Xerox. So the cat and mouse run of companies is on. The conclusion I made was if companies do not reinvent themselves, those are likely to die over a period of time.

Last weekend I was attending a course meant for board members or to make people capable to contribute to boards. In the course (Retd) Maj Gen Mhaisale shared some HBS and McKinsey reports about shrinking life time of companies. Earlier average life of companies used to be about 40 years now it has shrunk to 16 years (in some countries 6-10 years too). Take the same example life span of Kodak was about 100 years, Xerox about 40 or so (please don’t take these life span as sanctity numbers)!

Interesting part is a contradiction that human life expectancy is increasing and average life span of a company is decreasing. There is a lesson to learn – either be paranoid (as Andrew S Grove said in his book – Only the paranoids survive) and keep on reinventing your company or – death is inevitable!

Related blogs – Death

Source – BMG India training material on innovation (created and referred as a trainer) and IoD training sessions

Image source – Business Standard

KRD Pravin

Here I am supposed to write about myself. Professionally, I am quite serious and a workaholic; personally I am an individual who enjoys what he does and takes life as it comes. I am passionate about my work and actions and empathetically careful, attached and committed to them. All this makes me a fierce competitive professional and yet a compassionate soul, the Yin and the Yang together. Balancing is the art to be practiced using the middle path. From -


rummuser · October 4, 2012 at 12:16 am

A very insightful post Pravin and yes, birth, growth, decline and death are inevitable for every ‘thing’. What you need to worry about is to find the one ‘non thing’ which is beyond all these. If you get on to that band wagon, you will simply float on the flowing water which is life.

Ganesha to a devotee | Business to the Buddha · September 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

[…] wrote once on Ganesha festival (read here – Death is inevitable) of Maharashtra, similarly there is a Goddess Kali festival in West Bangal. What lesson I learnt […]

Farewell 2016 | Business to the Buddha · January 1, 2017 at 7:40 pm

[…] evading it. Legitimate money will make you and your money more respectable and in the end you would leave your body too here, wont take anything back with you. If you are doing something, put your heart and soul in […]

Leave a Comment