Gary Hoover, former entrepreneur-in-residence at McCombs' Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, pinpoints eight keys to building a successful enterprise that are valid in both good times and bad. Hoover based his keys on his 35+ year career experience, including three Fortune 500 companies and four of his own start-ups (Bookstop and Hoover’s Online were his). Hoover's second key point is a sense of history.
#2 Sense of History
Our society in general does not have a lot of respect for history, but people who build great enterprises have a sense of history and make a concerted effort to study it. Regardless of industry, any understanding of the future comes from understanding the past. Watching key long-term trends is a critical part of successful leadership.
Almost everything follows a long term pattern/curve that will help predict the future. What are some of the trends to watch today? What large demographic shifts are at work? Women entering the work force was among the major demographic changes since WWII. Current trends to watch include the aging of the baby boomers and the Latinization of the United States.
What can be learned from the leaders of the past, including those in your own industry and company? Today's software and hardware companies can learn by studying the auto industry and its leaders from 1910-30, when the auto industry faced many of the same production issues.