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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


You can't negotiate with change; it's going to happen regardless of what you do. it's one of the only constants in life. Take a moment to savor the irony--change is one of the only things that doesn't change. Change is a tsunami; you can surf it or be crushed by it.

Taken from a recent article in USA Today, here are examples of 8 large businesses that failed to adapt quickly enough and shrank to a shadow of their former glory or went bust.

  1. AOL. A pioneer in dial-up internet connection (maddeningly slow by today's standards), it failed to adapt to the shift to search-engine advertising and telecommunications/cable company competition.

  2. Yahoo. Once triple what it's worth now, it employed the "flying barn" strategic plan approach; i.e., it lacked focus and tried to be "too many things to too many people."

  3. Kodak. "Kodak Moments" dominated the world of film photography, but the company sat idly by as digital photography became the norm.

  4. Woolworth. This five-and-dime store concept was the one of the original discount variety stores, but it failed to respond appropriately to competition from big-box stores and drugstore chains.

  5. Blockbuster. After successfully crushing all it's "Mom and Pop" local independent store competition, this company failed to adapt to DVD-by-mail and then again to video streaming quickly enough.

  6. MySpace. Once a major player in the social network arena, it failed to adapt to competition from Facebook, which was more user friendly and had broader appeal.

  7. PanAm. This airline was the largest international airline in the US, but it failed to adapt quickly enough after the deregulation of the airline industry.

  8. Blackberry. Remember when all the cool people carried one? Once the dominant player among smartphones, it failed to adapt to touchscreen design and the proliferation of apps.

High-Performance Habits

  1. Control is good and change is scary, so as a leader you need to control everything you can. You can't control change, but you can anticipate it, adapt to it, and innovate.

  2. Create an organizational culture in which it's safe to be honest about what's working and what isn't so adaptation and innovation can occur and to take reasoned risks and fail sometimes.

  3. Continuously gather data from your current and prospective customers as well as scanning other environmental trends so you can see the tsunamis of emerging change coming and surf them to success.

  4. Create automatically recurring events that promote innovation, such as regular strategic update meetings with your leadership team.

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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