I have been an early adopter of the Palm technology and how it helped us in our daily business life, starting with the Palm Pilot then the Tungsten and finally my favorite pda the Treo… I still miss my Treo! The 3 RIM Blackberries I had after still did not replace it. The Treo was easy to use with touch-screen and all kind of sync features, before Apple even made the iPhone part of our daily vocabulary.
And like most of us, I watched the demise of Palm and how a company who created its own market with core fans could not keep up with technology, marketing and overall innovative strategy.
I just read an interesting article in Harvard Business Review called “Back to the Boneyard — Palm, Flip…and now RIM?”. The author takes us through the 4 rounds of the common pattern of technology companies and wonder if the companies are doomed to go from “Next Big Thing” to “Death Hurts, But It Isn’t Fatal?”. Real strategic vision is the key for technology companies to avoid losing track of the business potential and to be able to adapt to the always changing environment. It is really the case for all businesses. New business owners should start with a clear strategy and business plan and continue to adapt it. At Opus, we see this pattern often and we help business owners to go through this strategic exercise.
The article is focusing on large technology companies and I noticed one of the comments on this article which I think is also an important point in large corporations. Here’s the comment (as found on the web):
“The people who populate large established corporations are mostly risk averse. They spend their days working the promotion path, not looking for transformational products/services to save the company; or only half-heartedly push them because if the transformation product ‘fails’ (even if just initially) they don’t get that next promotion. And the layers of reporting pyramids distort/slow/stop the real data collected by the customer-facing employees. It’s not until a company is about to go under and is forced to hack departments off the trunk that they get serious about change. And at that point they are usually out of cash. Meanwhile small companies forced to be creative and change as a daily need of their business.”
I find this comment almost more valuable and true than the article itself. Creativity in small businesses is so powerful. Their strength is in the need to adapt daily like an immigrant living its country to survive. A clear strategic vision is a key component to their success. A lean, focused and adaptive structure with a forward-looking management will make the difference.