The best way to win the game is to change the game

“Beyond Detroit: On the Road to Recovery, Let the Little Guys Drive” by Charles C. Mann (Wired Magazine, June 2008). Another articles from Wired’s latest issue that focuses on The New Economy. Here is a must read paragraph. If you’ve tasted victory in the past then chances are good that it will have even more meaning to you.

The only escape from this conundrum is to pursue what Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has called disruptive innovation—the kind of change that alters the trajectory of an industry. As Christensen argued in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, successful companies in mature industries rarely embrace disruptive innovation because, by definition, it threatens their business models. Loath to revamp factories at high cost to make products that will compete with their own goods, companies drag their feet; perversely, financial markets often reward them for their shortsightedness. Good as they are, the European and Japanese automakers are established companies. At this point, they are as unlikely to pursue disruptive innovation as Detroit has been. That gives the US auto industry an opening. To take that opportunity, it will have to behave differently—it will have to step far outside the walls of the Rouge.

There it is again, success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. From time to time it is possible to arrive but sooner or later the sands will shift and the quest will have to continue. When it does, be sure to think about what your competition won’t do or can’t do and then do that. Use their success against them and change the game, at least for a moment. Repeat as necessary.

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