Gary Hamel once said: “Right now, in some garage around the corner, there are two kids forging a bullet with your company’s name on it.” (Or something like that).
History books are full of companies, that through their own arrogance, thought they were bullet proof. Kodak. Sears. Toys R Us, Blockbuster Video, Polaroid, Palm. Once great companies… killed by arrogance. Nokia was almost done in by three girls from Israel when they invented ‘Waze.’ Nokia’s $7Billion purchase of Navtech was completely undermined by a small company with no physical assets. Luckily for Nokia, they were rescued by Microsoft for a fraction of what the company used to be worth.
Five years ago, a 14-year-old kid named “Jack” in Baltimore, Maryland, developed a test strip that could provide early diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer. The test was $26,000 cheaper than traditional methods and 160 times more accurate. Pharma companies all over the world claimed it was impossible. After-all, a 14-year-old kid? Really.
However, this is happening everywhere to the organizations that are practicing the same strategies and arrogance that Kodak was.
How do you defend against the 14-year-olds out there?
Develop and deploy a ‘Black Op’s’ Team.
As part of your strategic renewal cycle (it used to be that strategy could be done every three to five years) every year, I recommend that you form a team of people with the sole purpose of scheming various scenarios on how the company can be ‘killed’ by two kids in a garage around the corner or a team of engineer graduates 12-time zones away.
A ‘Black Op’s’ team would be totally consumed with how the company’s current products and services could be reproduced better and more cheaply or made obsolete (Apple did this by making the iPod obsolete with features on the iPhone and iPad).
No company is safe. No product or service will be here forever. Anything that can be digitized, will be digitized.
The organizations that win are the ones that build these threats into their look strategy – even it means cannibalizing their own products or services.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker, and TEC Top Speaker of the Year for 2018. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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