Here’s how it happens.
Year 1: managers realise new technology, shifting customer needs and competition is changing the game. But, hey, there’s still life in the old dog yet. So, they do that Monty Python impression: “tis but a flesh wound!”.
Year 2: managers pay lip service to innovation. But actually pour 99% of their energies into lowering the costs of delivering the existing value proposition. Rather than doing different things; they just try to do the same things, better.
Year 3 onwards: managers realise a measured innovation strategy is now no longer enough. The zombie sickness is well established. The business needs full-on electro-shock therapy.
By this time, it’s usually too late. The cautionary tales of Yahoo, MySpace, Xerox, Blackberry, Borders Books, Kodak, Polaroid, Nokia and Blockbusters are all sad examples of The Walking Dead Syndrome.
You see, irrelevance isn’t an event, it’s a process.
Why do highly-intelligent business leaders ignore reality over and over again?
Because the barriers to change inside the business are allowed to overpower the threat outside. These barriers are built on an uncreative, risk-averse culture, fear of failure and an unwillingness to make tough choices.
It’s better to eat your own, than have your own eaten by others. Take Apple. The iPad Stole sales away from the original Macintosh but ultimately led to an expanded market. Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “Our core philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we don’t do it, someone else will.”
Many companies are already bitten. The value proposition which made them rich and famous is in decline and they’re blindly shuffling towards the grave. For some there’s still hope. But it’ll take courage to facilitate a creative culture and to invest time and money in a focused innovation strategy.
The question is: how a long have you got before your business is one of the irretrievable Walking Dead? And what can you do about it?
If you like blog check out my book ‘The Spark: How to Ignite and Lead Business Creativity’ (FT Publishing) available on Amazon.
Copyright © 2016 Greg Orme. All Rights Reserved.