Which Is Better: Long-Time History Or Short-Time History?

I’m referring to the place where you work. From a leadership perspective, which is better? The organization or entity with a very brief history (maybe 10 years or less) or the one with a much longer history (more than 50 years)?

Make your choice. Pro’s and con’s can be found in each.

The shorter history likely means you’re writing on more of a blank page. The existing customs or traditions are few. The cultural values are in flux, open to change. However, that can mean you don’t have a set of bearings to help stabilize things or to clarify a direction. A shorter history can also result in more evident passions and enthusiasms about why the entity was formed in the first place.

The longer history may have a comparatively greater store of reassurance. We’ve been here before, weathered this or that storm, and can do so again. This cuts two ways—it can give people too much complacency if reassurance is excessive or not grounded in reality. Still, the deeper the history the more plainly the case is made that we have a good chance at stability and continuance.

Ignoring history carries different risks in the different organizations. The organization with a long-term history ignores its past and raises the risk of repeating mistakes. The organization with a short-term history ignores its past and almost guarantees a loss of cultural values and shared identity.

The leader in each case must be aware of history and use it wisely.