• “Business people will always want to have keyboard buttons on their cell/smart phone”
  •  “Consumers will always want to select their movie rentals in a real store”
  •  “Consumers will always want to have physical photographs to display, and touch and feel”

OK…in which corporate strategy sessions were these (or something like these) sentiments voiced?  Umm, perhaps Blackberry, Blockbuster and Kodak?  And where are these companies today. Two are gone and one is on life support.

Outside of an utter lack of strategic forethought, these examples underscore a trap that many organizations fall into.  That trap is believing the achievement of extraordinary success with an existing (or new) product, service and/or business model has any impact on future success.  Organizations get complacent taking the money to the bank and feel they’re invincible.

But while you’re patting yourselves on the back, what do you think your competitors, both identified and unidentified, are doing?  Do you think they’re sitting around trying to copy you?  NO…what they’re doing is aggressively analyzing the value you deliver to your customers, trying to develop better products, services and/or business models that will help them leapfrog your marketplace position.  They are targeting YOU.  This is exactly what Apple, Netflix and the entire digital camera industry did to the brands listed above.

The lesson learned is…if you’re competition is working 80 hour weeks trying to figure out how to “take you out”, why wouldn’t you be working 81 hour weeks trying to figure out how to “take yourself out”?  It means adopting an organizational mindset of “If it Ain’t Broke, Break it”.  Knowing that you MUST continually reinvent yourself to stay relevant in the marketplace…knowing that you must be willing to cannibalize yourself, before someone else does.

A good example of this is the refrigerated yogurt category and the relatively new Greek yogurt segment (created by Chobani).  This segment now makes up about 50% of the total refrigerated yogurt category.  The major players, Dannon and Yoplait didn’t stick their respective heads in the sand and say “oh, this is just going to be a passing fad”; they had a deep understanding of their consumer, and that this would, in fact, be a significant threat.  Each quickly responded with Greek yogurt brands of their own, Oikos (Dannon) and Yoplait Greek, which helped them defend and grow their respective franchises.

So, next time your team has a fabulous success, pat yourselves on the back for a job well done, and take the proverbial victory lap—you deserve it.  At the same time, however, get right back to work reinventing yourself, thinking about what’s next.  Do not get complacent.  So Netflix, what are you doing to reinvent yourself now that Amazon and Google are exploring ways to upend your model?  Because If It Ain’t Broke, you MUST Break It!

We encourage you to share your examples of 1) brands that continually reinvent themselves to stay ahead of competition and 2) brands that had their heads in the sand

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