Are you fearless enough to raze the old to raise the new?

The Insider - - CONTENTS -

In 1999, a re­mark­able de­vice hit the world by a lit­tle known com­pany in Wa­ter­loo, Canada — Re­search in Mo­tion (RIM). The Black­Berry rev­o­lu­tion­ized the mo­bile hand­set in­dus­try with its sig­na­ture de­sign, key­board and se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions ap­pli­ca­tion.

It was ahead of its time and started an ad­dic­tion to hand­helds that grew into the ob­ses­sion we see today. In May 2007, the Black­Berry was ranked 5th in PC World’s Top 100 Prod­ucts (Ap­ple TV was No. 11, the Sam­sung Black­Jack smart­phone No. 25, and the iPod No. 26).

Fu­eled by a feed­ing frenzy of Black­Berry fa­nat­ics, of which in­cluded me and http://www.ny­times.com/2009/01/23/us/politics/23berry.html?mcubz=1 Pres­i­dent Obama, RIM held all the cards, which gave it the power to hold tele­com oper­a­tors hostage with ou­tra­geous li­cens­ing fees (90% of which were pure profit for RIM).

Five years later the Black­Berry was rel­e­gated to the “What­ever hap­pened to…” cat­e­gory of an­ti­quated tech. And while RIM tried to re­fresh it­self with its new name, Black­Berry, it was never able to re­turn to the days when it ruled the mo­bile world. Last Septem­ber, the com­pany, a pale shadow of its for­mer self, stopped mak­ing smart­phones al­to­gether.

What caused the Wizard of Wa­ter­loo to en­ter a freefall in a mar­ket it once owned and was grow­ing by leaps and bounds?

Some claim that its suc­cess bred con­ser­vatism and com­pla­cency, and per­haps that is true. But in The Globe and Mail’s, 2013 in­ves­tiga­tive https://www.the­globe­and­mail.com/re­port-on-busi­ness/the-in­side-story-of-why-black­berry-is-fail­ing/ar­ti­cle14563602/?page=all re­port, a num­ber of other crip­pling fac­tors were ex­posed by in­sid­ers. Black­Berry…

• Be­lieved they knew bet­ter than their users what they wanted and thought they could dic­tate what the mar­ket needed

• Let fear of Ap­ple and Google drive bad de­ci­sions — be­com­ing copy­cats with in­fe­rior, late-to-mar­ket prod­ucts few wanted to buy

• Had no co­he­sive strate­gic vi­sion within their lead­er­ship team

• Was a com­pany in tur­moil, fu­eled by the fear of can­ni­bal­iza­tion

• Failed to in­no­vate and cap­i­tal­ize on mar­ket shifts and rapid changes in tech­nol­ogy and user be­hav­ior When I think about Black­Berry’s roller­coaster ride from riches to rags, I can’t help but think about the state of main­stream me­dia. The sim­i­lar­i­ties in their his­to­ries are hard to ig­nore.

Main­stream pub­lish­ers were caught in http://www.clay­tonchris­tensen.com/books/the-in­no­va­tors-dilemma/ The http://www.clay­tonchris­tensen.com/books/the-in­no­va­tors-dilemma/ In­no­va­tor’s Dilemma. Although they saw all the signs, they didn’t see enough value in the tech­nol­ogy to in­vest in any se­ri­ous way, al­low­ing dig­i­tal in­no­va­tors to race right by them in plain sight while they were look­ing in the rearview mir­ror. Too many pub­lish­ers never learned that if you don’t de­stroy the old to build the new in the face of dis­rup­tion, you risk re­peat­ing the fates of oth­ers like Black­Berry and Ko­dak.

Just like Black­Berry, legacy pub­lish­ers…

• Have held their read­ers in dis­dain for years; too of­ten https://www.pressreader.com/@The_In­sider/cs­b_B53ff­sPpf­sKJM6UdDd­vMp­wD_xAdzh­ta_mPQDNBsc­qReG8wX40fY_y­oeP2PCl0QZuC3PN0fmjEN08kp1LYmhT_g" re­fer­ring to them as id­iots

• Are par­a­lyzed by their fear of can­ni­bal­iz­ing their print prod­ucts

• Live in con­stant anx­i­ety over Face­book and Google

• Fail to in­no­vate and cap­i­tal­ize on the changes in tech­nol­ogy and so­cial be­hav­ior

The re­sult?

Many legacy pub­lish­ers are now at risk of los­ing it all by try­ing to, not only stop time, but re­verse it. They opened the dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing door to star­tups they ig­nored for years and now yell, “Foul!” — ac­cus­ing vi­sion­ary in­no­va­tors of steal­ing their con­tent and their rev­enue.

How did this hap­pen?

If I may be so bold, I would sug­gest that it was be­cause some pub­lish­ers, like Black­Berry, let their suc­cess in 2000 breed con­ser­vatism and com­pla­cency.

Even when the print rev­enues started to tum­ble and paid cir­cu­la­tion plum­met, they held on to the be­lief that some­how they could re­verse the trend. Just like Black­Berry, they be­lieved they were too big to fail.

I know this sounds like a death march, but it’s not too late to turn the ta­bles. Take a les­son from RIM about what not to do and then be in­spired by Ap­ple’s cul­ture of fear­less­ness.

By launch­ing the iPhone, Ap­ple killed its iPod — a prod­uct that ac­counted for over https://www.statista.com/statis­tics/253630/ipod-rev­enue-as-share-of-ap­ples-to­tal-rev­enue/ 28% of Ap­ple’s https://www.statista.com/statis­tics/253630/ipod-rev­enue-as-share-of-ap­ples-to­tal-rev­enue/ rev­enue in 2009 — over US$11.9 bil­lion! To say its demise was planned in­ten­tion­ally might be stretch­ing it a bit, but there is lit­tle doubt that https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-at-10-ap­ple-steve-jobs-make-iphone-his­tory-re­mem­ber­ing/ Steve https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-at-10-ap­ple-steve-jobs-make-iphone-his­tory-re­mem­ber­ing/ Jobs knew that would hap­pen. Sure, he milked the iPod for a few years, but he knew it had a limited shelf life and would be re­placed with some­thing that would be­come even more de­sir­able, pow­er­ful, and prof­itable as tech­nol­ogy ad­vanced.

Ap­ple rein­vented the phone, MP3 player, cam­era, Per­sonal Dig­i­tal As­sis­tant (PDA) and com­puter in one fell swoop by putting all the func­tion­al­ity into a sin­gle mo­bile de­vice. But not just any de­vice—the most beau­ti­ful de­vice the world had ever seen. And it didn’t stop there. Ap­ple opened up the iPhone to ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ers ev­ery­where — not just the big guns, but ev­ery­one who could code. Today the iPhone has over 2.2 mil­lion apps which gen­er­ated over US$28 bil­lion in rev­enue by 2016.

Could main­stream me­dia have had that same en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, strate­gic vi­sion and will­ing­ness to experiment when it was in­tro­duced to the power of the in­ter­net twenty years ago? Yes, ab­so­lutely it could have.

But in­stead of rec­og­niz­ing the po­ten­tial of the tech­nol­ogy, pub­lish­ers merely viewed the in­ter­net as “just an­other chan­nel” on which to dis­trib­ute their con­tent. They never saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to rein­vent the world like Ap­ple, Google, and Face­book did.

Now I know what you’re go­ing to say, “These are all highly suc­cess­ful tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies.” True, but don’t for­get that in 1997 when the news­pa­per in­dus­try in the US was about to reach its peak rev­enue of US$67 bil­lion, Ap­ple was on the http://www.busi­nessin­sider.com/how-steve-jobs-took-ap­ple-from-near-bank­ruptcy-to-bil­lions-in-13-years-2011-1 verge of bank­ruptcy and Google and Face­book didn’t even ex­ist.

So what did Ap­ple do right? It hired back Steve Jobs — a renowned vi­sion­ary who im­me­di­ately stepped in and got rid of the bag­gage, which in­cluded an un­healthy cul­ture.

“If we want to move for­ward and see Ap­ple healthy and pros­per­ing again, we have to let go of a few things here. We have to let go of this no­tion that for Ap­ple to win, Mi­crosoft has to lose. We’re shep­herd­ing some of the great­est as­sets in the com­puter in­dus­try. We have to em­brace a no­tion that for Ap­ple to win, Ap­ple has to do a re­ally good job. And if oth­ers are go­ing to help us, that’s great, be­cause we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not some­body else’s fault. It’s our fault.”

Now take this quote and sub­sti­tute the bolded items above to re­flect your com­pany… “If we want to move for­ward and see us healthy and pros­per­ing again, we have to let go of a few things here. We have to let go of this no­tion that for us to win, other pub­lish­ers, new me­dia and con­sumers have to lose. We’re shep­herd­ing some of the great­est as­sets in the me­dia in­dus­try. We have to em­brace a no­tion that for us to win, we have to do a re­ally good job. And if oth­ers are go­ing to help us, that’s great, be­cause we need all the help we can get. And if we screw up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not some­body else’s fault. It’s our fault.”

It’s not too late to em­brace a new cul­ture and vi­sion, but it may re­quire dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions as Ken Lerer, co-founder of Huff­in­g­ton Post and a suc­cess­ful new me­dia in­vestor learned the hard way…

“I made a bunch of mis­takes when we launched NowThis News. I hired tra­di­tional me­dia ex­ec­u­tives. Bad mis­take. It’s re­ally hard for peo­ple to learn some­thing new when they’re not 15. So we fi­nally got it right. We hired the right peo­ple, who were all in their twen­ties, who didn’t grow up at ABC or NBC or CBS or CNN or any of those places. So, it’s do­ing ter­rif­i­cally well now.”

Ev­ery day is a new day. So tomorrow wake up and imag­ine what you could do if you weren’t bur­dened by the shack­les of the past and present. To in­spire you, check out the https://www.fast­com­pany.com/most-in­no­va­tive-com­pa­nies/2017 most in­no­va­tive and https://www.fast­com­pany.com/most-in­no­va­tive-com­pa­nies/2017 suc­cess­ful or­ga­ni­za­tions in the world and re­mem­ber how they got, and now thrive, there.

And then ask your­self with a new fearless out­look on your fu­ture, “What must I raze today in or­der to raise a new me­dia com­pany that will pro­pel us into a prof­itable fu­ture?”

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