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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

What is it worth having a long (business) tradition?

Monday, 11 January 2016 | Posted by: Sonja Specks, European Coatings Journal

There are many companies in the business, which have been producing coatings since generations. Either family-based enterprises or companies that are listed or run by institutions. The older they are, the longer tradition they have, of course.

For me tradition is linked to pride, history, continuity, customs, legacy and habits. As usual, this can be a burden or something you may benefit from.

My inner conflict with tradition

I am torn when it comes to tradition - and what it could mean - in the business world. I think, due to their long history, these companies are labelled as being reliable. They made it through all the rough periods, e.g. technology changes and/or economic challenges. That’s a huge amount of experience. But is that really the case? Isn’t our time changing rapidly and so regulated as it has never been before? Or will history just repeat itself, and show that experience pays off?

Stigma or clever marketing with history?

Tradition might have the stigma of being outdated. Just because the company’s logo might be refreshed from time to time, it doesn’t mean that all internal processes are refreshed or having new approaches to deal with challenges. Some companies are proud of having a long history, some are even prouder to show that they had open minds for new businesses in this history. But then tradition would be worthless. Or is that the proof of cleverness to adapt to changing situations?

How can you benefit from tradition?

Well, even when all this tradition exists in a company and has a positive connotation in all aspects, how can the current manager of the enterprise benefit from all this tradition and experience today?
When somebody talks about the long tradition, I listen very attentively. I am waiting for the part where and how tradition is implemented in today’s daily business. I think apart from the employees emotions of being part of a historically grown company, tradition is neither a trump nor a stigma. Or how often do you hear of tradition, as a convincing argument, in your business talks?

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Sonja Specks
European Coatings Journal
Sonja Specks
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