For a moment, think about the 500 largest corporations that existed 50 years ago. A few big names probably pop into your mind as you imagine what kind of companies have been able to last that long.
Now, here’s a newsflash for you: Few of those companies actually still exist today.
How could these businesses—reaching revenue milestones bigger than the rest—become extinct? “They failed to change and became irrelevant, left behind by emerging competitors more in tune with the market,” explains Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners, a leadership consulting and training firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Like dinosaurs, companies that ignore the rapidly changing circumstances around them can quickly end up in business oblivion.
What’s the trick? Learning to adapt to change. And the more rapid the pace of change, typically the more dire the consequences companies experience when they stubbornly stick to their old ways.
The Harvard Business Review had some insight into the top four patterns that cause good companies to go bad.
- Strategic frames become blinders. Are there some common beliefs you follow about your competition? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate them to ensure they are still relevant so you can remain competitive. Firestone, for instance, always thought its main competitors were domestic and didn’t give Michelin a second thought when it arrived on the scene because of its French origin. It needed to adjust to stay competitive.
- Processes harden into routines. Some systems that have been tried and true for years can become ruts in the road to continued success when those routines keep a business from looking for better solutions. Occasionally evaluate your systems to ensure you’re not missing improvements.
- Relationships become shackles. Relationships are important parts of every business. But if some run too deep and create inflexibility, they can hinder innovation. Look at your long-standing vendor relationships or employee relationships in various positions and make sure they are still contributing to your continued success by adapting to change.
- Values harden into dogmas. Values are great for a company but don’t let them turn from positive inspirations to rigid rules that bind the business.
Don’t remain stuck in the past. Take a look at all of your current values, beliefs, systems and processes and test them to the changing environment. Make sure they are still relevant and are continuing to push your company to bigger and better things.
Charles Darwin may have said it best: “It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”