Ruminating on a willow tree he had planted as a younger man, its explosive growth over his lifetime and now its demise, playwright Arthur Miller observed on Wednesday in interview with the BBC’s Alan Yentob that things that grow very quickly also tend to die sooner. This is perhaps a good lesson for business.

Fast growth, particularly in our breathless high tech, winner-takes-all economy is what we are all looking for.

Miller’s experience spans the century. He saw his own father, a factory owner, have the life sucked out of him by the 1929 Wall Street crash and subsequent depression. Interestingly he observed that it was not simply the financial loss that characterised the pain of the era, but the generalised loss of hope.

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