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Evolve or Die

evolve-or-dieby Tom Triumph, Featured Contributor

FIRST THE BAD NEWS. Chances are your company is probably going to go under. Whether large and successful, or small and nimble, the odds are your company will remain focused on the business at hand. Chugging forward with their current way of doing business, selling those products and services that have served so well. It works. Sometimes for a long while. Until it doesn’t.

“Unlikely,” you’re thinking. “The company has done well for (5, 10, 50) years!”

But, ahead (somewhere) lies a treacherous curve. And since your company is like other companies (comprised of people with habits and needs and shortsightedness) the organization is basically resistant to change – despite the “we think out-of-box” platitudes. Senior management doesn’t know what they don’t know. Why should they be different from anybody else? And the future has a way of  blindsiding most of us with change.

The ironic thing, is the company likely succeeded in the first place because it was innovative and drove change. Yet its successful run makes continued evolution difficult and counterintuitive.

It’s easy to find examples of companies that failed to evolve, missed the twists and turns in the journey, and headed into difficulties. Oftentimes entirely missing the new world order. Like the proverbial buggy whip manufacturers. Decreasing market share. Lost revenue. Oblivion.

The attached infographic lists companies and industries that were doing exceptionally well… until they weren’t.

And what’s the good news? For one, while it’s not easy to successfully navigate through the technological and societal changes ahead, neither is it impossible. Some companies are in fact able to reinvent themselves; to move from one business model to another. Even if you’re not the one steering the ship, you can fight the good fight and be an influencer. Maybe work on a project that’s not officially “sponsored.” It’s not uncommon for dedicated (stubborn) employees to spend a portion of their spare time on skunkworks, until such time that the work matures and the company realizes they need what you have. It happens in great companies all the time. Which by the way is in part is why those companies are great – because some of the people pushed ahead and did what they thought needed doing.

Maybe the even better “good news” is that you are not your company. While it’s hard to influence a company’s direction, you have complete control over yourself. Meaning, you’re free to study what’s happening around you, and not be one of the many people holding the buggy whip inventory when nobody’s buying.

What’s dangerous is not to evolve.” 

– Jeff Bezos, Found & CEO Amazon

Change means doing things that are new, and forgoing things that are familiar. It means discomfort and uncertainty. And there’s the real likelihood of being wrong. All in all, it’s scary.

It really comes down to a decision. You either ride things out, fight for the status quo and hope the changes you’re sensing are going to slow (they won’t). Or you think about where the world is inexorably headed, and change to get yourself there.

The journey is difficult, but the direction is clear. Evolve or die.

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Thomas Triumph
Thomas Triumphhttp://tomtriumph.com/
TOM is a hands-on technology executive who helps large organizations act more nimbly in the market and small companies scale. Leading marketing and business development, he has launched numerous technology products and led cross-functional teams – including participating in two technology revolutions – less invasive medical devices and the Internet/software. Tom has been a part of some remarkable technology and business growth success stories (as well as some misfires). Building submarines out of 55-gallon drums in grade school, he eventually fulfilled a childhood dream of living aboard a research ship (Jacques Cousteau was on the Board of Directors) and tending to the mini-sub. Tom has also wrestled in the Olympic Trials, founded a consumer electronic company, and worked for leading companies to help launch and lead: medical device products, software, SaaS, Internet companies, professional consulting services, and 25 ton hovercraft built entirely from composite materials. This broad background has resulted in two unique characteristics - the depth of skill that allows Tom to contribute to the technical, business and creative process; and the disposition for collaboration across disciplines. He's an enthusiastic and collaborative team player who maintains a good sense of humor.

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