"Steelcase, the long-time maker of innovative workplace furniture, celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and defines itself not as an office furniture company, rather as a company of ideas."
Catch a company that does it right. Besides IBM and several other rare centarians, Steelcase stands out, in Michigan, in particular.
The 100-year company is the rarest of all organizations in Corporate America – a survivor of multiple business cycles, the appearance of radically disruptive technologies and the changing tastes of entirely different generations.
In Michigan. Steelcase, doesn't define itself as an office furniture company, but rather, as a company of ideas:
"Companies don't survive for a century, ideas do."
(Fittingly, Steelcase is a sponsor of the TED Conference). The company, which began by making steel metal wastebaskets back in 1912, thrived during the great post-war Baby Boomer work generation that saw the transition to fixed workplaces and the rise of the modern cubicle worker.
Jim Hackett, the CEO of Steelcase, uses a deceptively simple idea to guide the company in this transition to a new mobile economy. He refers to this Big Idea as the movement from the "I/Fixed" paradigm to the "We/Mobile" paradigm.
Steelcase is no longer selling products, it is selling experiences.
Companies are shifting away from fixed office environments to mobile, collaborative workforces and flexible workspace arrangements that go beyond desks and chairs.
One of the company's recently launched product lines is media:scape, which is essentially a blend of furniture and technology to create collaborative workplace environments. At a certain level, Steelcase is no longer selling products, it is selling experiences.
how [will] mobile change everything about your industry?
So how do you build the next 100-year company? You first need to ask yourself how the ascendance of mobile will change everything about your industry.
Just as Steelcase got its start making metal wastebaskets, the next 100-year-company may be currently engaged in the creation of something so mundane, yet so practical, that we may not know how to recognize it yet as a future innovator.
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