At what point does a company know they are fighting a losing battle against the strategy they have chosen to follow?
How do you know when to stay?
In Lohr’s article, he notes that organizations need to build on their past and not necessarily walk away from the market if there is a threat of becoming irrelevant. Even if the current direction of a business changes, some things remain the foundation of what made the business in the first place – employee skills, technology, products, and marketing materials can be edited or used as a reference of where the company was as it moves to new beginnings.
This highlights the need to continuously reexamine the health and direction of your company, because changes creep into the system and you may overlook something the first or second time it is introduced. However, a market shift or new competitor may take a little while to demonstrate that it isn’t going to go away so easily and then changes must be made. But, this is a reactive strategy – so although you may salvage the organization, you may find yourselves at a disadvantage.
Sometimes, you have to look farther ahead – using experience and insights and the numbers you have on hand to make a choice. These are long-term decisions and set an organization up in a way that may not be immediately obvious. These choices build off the company’s foundation of skills and assets. Sometimes it’s a win, and sometimes it is not. But if you are aware of your organization and in tune with the market, you must continue to offer unique propositions to your customer base otherwise you are guaranteed to lose.
As Lohr mentions, IBM isn’t the only one with the pitfalls they’ve experienced, but have managed to examine their position and evaluate a better one. Microsoft is one example of this and they continue to have a competitive advantage and remain relevant.
Lohr, S. Lessons in Longevity, from I.B.M. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/technology/19unboxed.html?pagewanted=all