Of 20-year growth stories

Being tempted by a non-stop 20 years'' growth story is easy! Just that it doesn''t exist - not the "non-stop" part. When treated as natural, slowdowns can be amazingly benign but when treated with denial, they slaughter.

It is often useful to browse through the experiences of industries which have matured ahead of our own, to get a better idea of their entrenched views of life. One industry which readily comes to mind is the consumer goods manufacturing industry.

Having spent a number of years doing advisory projects for the board of Hindustan Lever the Unilever subsidiary in India, I learnt that a slowdown following a period of intense activity and market development is a way of life in an industry which has seen umpteen cycles. The slowdown is neither related to reaching ultimate saturation nor to the economic cycle, but they have a lot in common with the well-known...

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