When operating a business it is easy to get dragged into the day-to-day and think the world will continue on forever.
Like buggy whip manufacturers, and Microsoft, but maybe not so much like Meta.
More on that in a second.
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Joe and I recently had an interesting conversation with Hartland Ross, CEO of Ebridge Marketing Solutions and the Host Broker.
The podcast will come out in a few weeks, but one of the key lessons I got out of it was the need to stay open to the pivot.
Hartland has been in business for a long time, and he has seen a lot of transitions.
It is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and think the world will never change, but long-term rewards come to the innovators.
A famous study in innovation comes from the turn of the last century when the buggy-whip industry collapsed.
Manufacturers kept making their horse whips even as the world moved to cars. Studebaker shifted to car parts.
Guess which company survived.
Ken Olson, CEO of DEC, put his foot down and insisted that there was no need for computers in the home, even as Gates taught the Altair 8800 to play Lunar Lander and called for a computer on every desk.
We know which company survived.
Later, Gates bet Microsoft on a newfangled thing called the Internet. That worked out well too.
And Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook to Meta, bet the company on the Metaverse, and, well, honestly, that’s been kind of a disaster.
Recently Disney pulled the plug on their Metaverse investment. The initial rush of interest in digital landscape has created little more than virtual ghost towns.
Even Zuckerberg has pulled back on the idea.
And there is a lesson in this:
Microsoft and Studebaker were looking at trends. The world was changing, and they took action to change with it.
Olson and buggy-whip manufacturers had their heads in the sand, pretending that the world wasn’t changing. They wanted the world to conform to their vision rather than conform to the world.
This is what’s happening to Zuckerberg too. He wanted to shape the world to his Metaverse vision. But the world doesn’t work that way.
This doesn’t mean it won’t happen someday, but forcing it today makes Sisyphus’s rock-rolling punishment look like the easy way out.
Making bets on trends is smart business.
Trying to get the world to conform to your vision of what the world should be is hard, expensive, and, well, really hard.
As we move into planning, it’s worth stepping back, looking at your business from a broader view, and asking what trends will impact it. Use your SWOT analysis to surface issues you see.
This will help you steer clear of disaster and lead you to valuable pivots as Mr. Ross has done.
But be wary of trying to make the world conform to your vision; that way lies ruin.
See you soon for planning!
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