Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to tell when a Company is Uncomfortable?

Comfort can be one of the most destructive emotions a company could have. More destructive than an earthquake destroying global companies’ supply chain because earthquakes are out of human control and comfort is something management can influence.

The signs are usually not obvious to managers who don’t suspect this potential deadly sickness. What happens when a company gets too comfortable is that it stops innovating, stops producing, stops trying, stops listening, stops envisioning, or stops challenging itself. One obvious sign which is the inspiration for this post, a company that’s one of the largest media companies in world suddenly contacted me after I’d stop using their services years ago. They suddenly noticed I no longer was a customer and wanted me back.

I believe what happened is that competition had gotten tough. If I were fortunate to build a company, that practiced what I call “Necessary Discomfort”, it would be like the following companies Intel, Apple, Tim Hortons, Rogers, StarBucks, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, P&G, Nike and Google. “Why?” you ask. These companies are considered the LA Leakers of their industry and could easily stop trying but they never stop.

If the management and its employees are feeling really comfortable and in some case even untouchable you know growth is about to plummet to no-return. Nortel Networks is one.

“He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.” - Bob Dylan

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