Monday, March 30, 2015

Why didn't they see it coming?


I often think about the downfall of Blockbuster and Blackberry. Its no wonder to me why they fell, what amazes me is why they didn't see it coming and when they finally saw it coming, why they didn't react...

Every company becomes obsolete. The companies that endure are the ones that can adapt. When 3M started a hundred odd years ago, it was selling whatever it could mine out of the ground. It just so happened 3M bought a mine that wasn't good for sand paper so they pivoted and sold masking tape while they sorted out the sand paper quality issues.

The ability to pivot is the skill that determines a company's long term success. If the company can quickly and nimbly change direction then it will be able to react to the ever changing winds of the market.

Bloomingdales, Macy's, and Sears are dying and yet Nordstrom is crushing it. Why? What do the leaders of Nordstrom know that the entire industry is ignoring? Its amazing to me that even when there is clearly one company in the industry doing it right, the others continue to be stubborn.

The problem is compounded by the fact that it is easy to change jobs. Those who see the downfall on the horizon simply leave and join the winning team. Anyone who knows what to do and why it should be done doesn't stay around to see the end. There is a natural selection that occurs and the failing companies fail faster as the young talent politely walks out the door.

If you find yourself at a failing company do you endure the thankless work of teaching your leaders, or do you walk across the street and join the winning team?

The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but any grass is greener than dead grass.