11th August 1930 - 9th November 2019
Arie de Geus spent 38 years on three continents as a line manager at Royal Dutch Shell, and finished his career as the Corporate Planning Director in charge of business and scenario planning. Following his retirement, de Geus advised organisations of all kinds, was published in many countries in several different languages, and continued to be a sought-after speaker. His 1988 Harvard Business Review article, "Planning as Learning", established him as a leading expert in organisational learning. Arie was a Visiting Fellow at London Business School and adviser to many governments and private institutions.
In 1997 he published a book entitled "The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment", which has been translated into more than twenty languages, has been widely praised and has received a number of awards. The most prestigious of these awards was the 1997 Financial Times/Booz-Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award for "The most insightful, innovative management book of the year". In his book Arie explains why so many companies die early, and provides the key to corporate longevity. When the usual lifespan of a company is 12.5 years, and of a multinational, 40 years, how have some companies survived for centuries? As the former head of strategic planning for Royal Dutch Shell, de Geus knows that the answer is people more than financial assets.
In "The Living Company", he maintains that the most enduring companies treat their enterprises as 'living work communities' rather than purely economic machines. From the remarkable stories of companies like the 700 year-old Stora, de Geus has distilled the essential elements of the long-lived company, and persuasively outlines his prescription for organisational longevity.