Moved by admin (06/26/09)
Everyone is familiar with the simple game we give toddlers where they have a square peg, a round peg, and a triangular peg. Then there is a box with holes for each, sometimes there are more pegs with corresponding holes of various shapes such as pentagons and octagons or whatever. Most every toddler learns fairly quickly that the round peg goes in the round hole, square peg goes in the square hole, and so on and so forth. Then for whatever reason, be it turning 13, discovering alcohol, preoccupation with the opposite gender, or whatever, that lesson is immediately forgotten.
"Well I know the round peg goes in the round hole…"
Do you? I would hope so, you and everyone else. What peg goes where is not nearly as important as the lesson overall. It seems that most people prefer hammering the proverbial round peg into the square hole rather than finding the round hole, or creating a square peg. Why? I'd put my money on laziness, because in life the pegs and holes are not laid out to you by Mommy and Daddy, you have to discover or invent them. Same can be said about businesses who try and stay relevant rather than adapt to the changing times. It's called product strategy people, look at Poloroid, if they didn't go digital and kept to those iconic white framed photos where would they be? The evidence is everywhere, business need to adapt at an accelerated rate alongside technological advancement.
Radio has been impacted by satellite radio, because it's advertising-free, but both will lose to Internet radio which is not only customizable but can be supported by advertising or subscription fees. What I am saying is that Pandora is the future of radio. What is a radio station to do? Go online! Broaden your audience; streamline your advertising (FYI online radio can have visual ads while the music plays, remarkable I know).
As early as the 70s car companies as well as oil companies did their best to pigeon hole mass transit and alternative fuels. Why broaden your horizons or corner the global alternative energy market when you can throw on the blinders and ignore the brick wall you are heading straight for? Let me now steer away from oil before this gets political, the point I am trying to make is product strategy is not rocket science and yet as soon as companies establish core products, they are foolishly resistant to alter what drives them. Sure minor changes and tweaks are fine, but a fundamental shift in driving revenue should not be considered a faux pas.
The world is advancing at an exponential rate, for better or worse, and as the diffusion of innovation increases the rate of obsolescence does as well. Abaci were used for centuries, then we had giant mechanical calculators, then calculators, graphing calculators, and now the phone I take everywhere with me in my pocket does all kinds of math, calls friends and family, updates my Facebook and checks sports scores. Each advancement in technology coming quicker than the one before. One day's newspaper today has more information than a year's worth of any single publication in 1890. Business is a chess match with everyone playing on the same board, if you aren't thinking numerous steps ahead you are behind. What you do today will be obsolete halfway through this century.
Obvious exceptions include jewelry, clothes, and art… they just go out of vogue, but you get the drift.