Sunday, February 1, 2009

Reinvention Is The New Black (AKA Reinvent Or Die)

WARREN, MI - JULY 18:  General Motors vice cha...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

These days, it seems that Brands have been going from success stories to practically irrelevant over night. Given the speed of change, businesses can no longer rest on their laurels or assume that was is relevant in today's economy will have any meaning two years from now.

But large companies are rarely prepared to reinvent themselves. When they start to see signs of decline, they tend to follow a pattern of hiding from reality and seeking change in small increments. A strategy that while often helps everyone keep their jobs in the short term, usually means a potential business crushing crisis down the road.

We've seen this with the big 3 automotive companies. And even now, most of the discussion is around improving what they already do. Hybrid cars. Wages in line with competitors. Better design. It isn't about what companies like General Motors could be in the future given their distribution centres, manufacturing prowess, and communications networks.

I saw a documentary a while ago on the design house Hermes. At one time Hermes made saddles. You can imagine, this was a big of a problem when the automobile was introduced. Sure Hermes could have focused on better saddles or trying to stop technology in its tracks (ala today's music industry) but instead what they did was shift their entire company. Take their brand which was known for meticulous hand made quality and start making exclusive leather bags. From potential bankruptcy to brilliance.

This morning @ianlyons linked to an article that talked about when Twitter was conceived after the Odeo team determined there was too much competition in their space.

There are a number of companies I would love to see take a new viewpoint on what they do and reinvent themselves.

RIM comes to mind as a company that could crush their competition not by just coming out with parody products like the Storm but by taking the core of what they are successful at and applying that to new products and services beyond the handset.

What companies would you like to see reinvent themselves? What companies/industries do you think are on the brink of irrelevance if they don't take the road of radical change?


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