You know what’s a fun game to play. Ask what companies blew their opportunity the most, and how did it happen? It’s incredible how many companies fall in love with their product or service and forget that without innovation they will be left in the dust. Let’s start with one that I was close to for a while.
Curiosity means you think critically and ask questions. Curious people challenge the status quo and strive to be innovative. Curiosity leads to disruption and innovation and will ensure your company doesn’t become the next Blockbuster, Blackberry or MySpace.
I worked for Gannett, a gigantic media conglomerate that at its peak was a combination of television stations, local newspapers and its largest brand: USA Today. As we’ve watched print fade and digital takeover during the last two decades, I was blown away at the miss Gannett had with USA Today. With their experience and market share, I always believed they should be the number one resource for national news online. However, old thinking and lack of innovation kept them stuck, while digital upstarts like Yahoo, Google and others took the space that should have been all theirs.
The top-5 online news sites: (1) Yahoo, (2) Google News, (3) Huffington Post, (4) CNN, (5) New York Times. You have to scroll all the way to (14) to find USA Today in terms of online traffic. What a miss for a brand that, if navigated properly, should have been one of those top-5 online sources for news.
But Gannett is not alone in mismanaging the digital revolution. There are several others with much worse stories. I stumbled on this Blackberry the other day and remembered back to when I got this phone, thinking it was the coolest and most advanced piece of tech. Now it seems like an ancient tribal device compared to an iPhone. The point is that Blackberry owned the smart-phone market. Blackberrys were so popular they were called “Crack-berrys.” But they did not innovate; they did not understand the sweeping market changes. They also thought that loyalty to their brand was all they needed, and that was true in the business world for a long time. When the iPhone first came out, it was really only considered good for personal use, while business people were not ready to give up their Blackberrys. But as we now know, eventually everyone converted either to an iPhone or an Android. Loyalty will never beat innovation.
History is littered with companies that blew it. Shouldn’t Blockbuster have become Netflix? How did AOL and Yahoo lose to Google? Both were in the search space long before Google. Remember MySpace, shouldn’t they be Facebook?
What do all of these stories have in common? They didn’t have enough people who were curious. Curiosity means you think critically and ask questions. Curious people challenge the status quo and strive to be innovative. The core of 3 Bridges Consulting is to be Curious – Creative – Competitive. They are all important, but I would argue the first one might be the most important because if you are curious the other two will follow. Curiosity leads to disruption and innovation and will ensure your company doesn’t become the next Blockbuster, Blackberry or MySpace.
What other companies can you think of that missed their opportunity to innovate? Let us know in the comments below!