These are the 14 Things That Kill Once-Great Companies

By Scott Kirsner |  April 3, 2018

Too many large companies rest on their laurels and assume they will forever remain relevant. They get obsessed with their direct competitors and ignore the things their customers actually care about.

They also assume that simply saying the word “innovation” a lot, or adding it to a few peoples’ job titles, will somehow help them figure out the future.

Meanwhile, on a daily basis, they are actively getting in their own way when it comes to investing, testing, and building things that will create growth in that not-so-distant future.

These are 14 of the most common things we at InnoLead see companies doing, thinking, and saying that lead to decline and eventual irrelevance:

  1. All the smartest people work for us. We don’t need to look outside for solutions, ideas, or help.
  2. Marketing is the only group allowed to communicate with the customer. (But they can run a focus group for you in six months.)
  3. Every new concept needs to have an iron-clad business case showing how it can become a billion-dollar business.
  4. We need to cut costs now, without rethinking our model/store format/experience. That can come later.
  5. Digital customer acquisition, sales, service, and support are a low priority and underfunded. Most resources still go to marketing and selling things “ye olde fashioned way.” (Please note, our fax number has recently changed.)
  6. We need to wait until the annual strategy or budget review rolls around to discuss the need for a strategic shift or any new investment.
  7. We need to wait for the integration work following our latest mega-merger to be completed. Then we can focus on innovation.
  8. We need to wait for the management consultants/new CEO/innovation committee to finish up an 18-month review that will tell us how to innovate.
  9. It’s far more important to be seen in meetings inside the building than to ever go outside the building for any reason.
  10. We already have laid out the tech roadmap for the next five years, and [this new thing that is obviously gaining momentum] is not on it.
  11. We don’t buy from startups, so let’s wait until Microsoft/Oracle/Salesforce/IBM offers this same capability.
  12. The leadership team spent three days in Silicon Valley and set up a partnership with an accelerator program there, so we are all set on the innovation front.
  13. Innovating is what our two-person innovation team is doing.
  14. We know we aren’t able to hire our industry’s top talent like we used to, but let’s just keep hiring the same way we’ve always hired

What’s missing from this list? Post a comment below.