Don't Get Left Behind

By Nicole Wisniewski

Three out of four businesses on Standard & Poor's 500 list will be gone by 2020. That's 375 businesses that will vanish through mergers, bankruptcies or acquisitions. This according to "Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market - And How to Successfully Transform Them" by Sarah Kaplan and Richard Foster.

Why will these companies fail? "Because they do not adapt to change, to accelerating change, which will render their products and services obsolete," according to "Innovate (or Die): How Green Industry Companies Will Thrive in the New Economy," the Professional Landcare Network's 30th Crystal Ball Report.

Says the report: "The truth is our economy is not recovering so much as reinventing itself. We are all experiencing increasing competition and profit margins that are under pressure, and having to deal with competitors introducing new services that we wish we had thought of. We have entered a period of significant economic change. Companies that learn to innovate and to view, analyze and continuously adapt to change will be able to grow in the new economy. Those that continue with 'business as usual' are doomed."

The problem some businesses have, particularly service businesses like those in the green industry, is they can't see how they can innovate when they aren't inventing new products. Another challenge is that when budgets are tight, companies tend to cut innovative measures to save money.

On the social media website LinkedIn, I belong to a group called Future Trends with 104,570 other professionals. The group has regular, lively discussions about business, the economy, branding and innovation.

Recently, one professional asked group members to share their definitions of innovation. More than 100 responses came in.

Here are some of the highlights:

These opinions are all different, yet they have common strings that tie them together. It's clear these professionals from various business backgrounds and experience levels all feel innovation begins as a thought process.

And, as Crystal Ball Report #30, adds: "Meaningful progress can be made when leaders adopt the mindset that their organizations must and will innovate."

The S&P 500 prediction and this candid innovation discussion confirm that businesses must adapt and evolve to remain successful. And on that path toward adaptation and evolution is innovation. And what business wouldn't want to innovate? After all, at its very core, as one Future Trends group member simply states, "Innovation is a passion to improve."

Nicole Wisniewski is a 15-year green industry veteran and award-winning journalism and marketing professional. She's a senior project manager in The Davey Tree Expert Co.'s marketing/corporate communications department. Follow her on Twitter at greenpen or reach her at