Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Rudzki helps companies Beat the Odds

Rudzki's book boils down an organization's success or failure to nine factors.

Just like human beings, corporations have life spans, and most companies do not live past the age of 50. In fact, only a few dozen companies in the entire world have lasted more than 100 years, says Robert A. Rudzki '75.

Rudzki is author of Beat the Odds: Avoid Corporate Death and Build a Resilient Enterprise, a new book that offers a framework for diagnosing an organization's health and achieving organizational excellence.

"In the past 10 years in the United States alone, there have been 600,000 business bankruptcies (5,000 per month), and numerous companies have disappeared from the Fortune 500 list," Rudzki says. "These statistics show that there is something fundamentally wrong that is causing corporate mortality, and without healthy organizations, modern society will be less likely to achieve its full potential."

Rudzki has spent the past decade researching Beat the Odds (J. Ross Publishing, 2007) to help executives diagnose where their companies are on a spectrum of unhealthy to potentially very healthy.

Once readers have that diagnosis, the book tells them what to do to improve their situation and their company's chances of living past 50. "It's both a diagnostic and a prescriptive book," Rudzki says.

Rudzki boils down the principles behind organizational success to nine key factors, two of which are purpose and core values. "Any one of the nine factors, if ignored or actively violated, can literally kill a company," Rudzki says. "And there are lots of things that an organization has to do well that aren't in the nine principles—managing capital structure, good strategic procurement, and good marketing. But if you don't do the nine principles well, the rest of it won't matter."

Rudzki, who also is coauthor of Straight to the Bottom Line: An Executive's Roadmap to World Class Supply Management, cites many personal examples in his book because he worked in corporate America for most of his career—first in the finance department at Bethlehem Steel, and then as a senior executive at Bayer Corp. As a result of his career assignments, he has had the unique opportunity to interact with hundreds of executives and companies, and to study firsthand what triggered their successes and failures. Rudzki earned an industrial engineering degree from Lehigh and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

"I wanted a strong technical undergraduate degree before going for my M.B.A.," he says. "Early in my career, people often asked me if my Wharton degree prepared me for my first job in the finance department at Bethlehem Steel, and I would tell them that my engineering degree was as valuable for my finance career as my Wharton M.B.A. Lehigh plus Wharton was a great two-part nameplate."

Today, as president of Greybeard Advisors LLC (www.GreybeardAdvisors.com), Rudzki works to help companies avoid a premature death. He has already used his nine principles to diagnose the health of numerous companies, with revenues ranging from less than $1 million to $10 billion.

Thanks to Beat the Odds, many more companies now stand a much better chance of keeping the Grim Reaper of business at bay.

Elizabeth Shimer

Lehigh Alumni Bulletin
Spring 2007

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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