Can you imagine living in a world filled with great and terrible beasts like the dinosaurs? What a world it must have been! I’m guessing that movies like Jurassic Park don’t even come close to depicting these awe-inspiring reptiles! If you’ve ever stood before the intimidating skeleton of a T-Rex in a museum, or a colossal Brachiosaurus, you might have gazed up at it wondering what that amazing animal must have been like in real life. You might have also wondered, Just how did such mighty creatures become extinct? You might be closer to the real answer than you think.
Scientist attempt to explain the disappearance of the dinosaurs by way of any number of theories. Regardless of which one you happen to subscribe to, most experts agree that it was some global catastrophic event that ushered in the demise of the “terrible lizards” – an event that the dinosaurs just couldn’t adapt to. We see the same kinds of things happening today. Things come and go, whether it’s animal species, fads, or even once-successful businesses.
But sometimes there really isn’t some instantaneous catastrophic event we can point to; sometimes it’s just a slow fading away. One day something which always seemed to be right there on the cutting edge… isn’t. Remember when people thought that America Online was the Internet? What does AOL really do these days? Oh yeah; they provide that cool @aol.com email address that says to everybody, “Hey, I’m a cyberspace pioneer! I was there when it all started!” Yeahhhh.
Many of us do our level best to prepare for potential catastrophes. But what about the slow and subtle changing of the seasons? Theoretical extinction-level events aside, how vigilant have you been changing your business with the seasons? Will you survive, or thrive? Or does extinction loom over you like a shadow?
The reason that decades-old businesses of yesteryear are suddenly reduced to dust and bones today is because the people running them are too entrenched in their thinking to adapt to climate changes. Instead of embracing innovation and being forward-thinking, they shun the technologies and new ways of thinking that have become minimum mission essentials in today’s competitive environment. I’m amazed at how many once-savvy business people are intimidated by innovation and even celebrate their ignorance of it, citing the younger generation as the technology gurus. Someone once said, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” Frankly, these days even that is wishful thinking. Apply that logic and you’ll wind up being eyeballed by a bunch of fifth-graders from behind fuzzy red ropes as they read a plaque aggrandizing how world-dominating you used to be.
While Jurassic Park was merely fiction, Dr. Malcolm’s point remains: “Dinosaurs had their shot and nature selected them for extinction.” The dinosaurs couldn’t adapt and now we dig up their bones. We can adapt! But is your business beginning to look more like a T-Rex surfing the Web on AOL?