Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Salutory metaphor for Nokia

This is right on the money regarding the ever-present need for big companies such as ours to innovate:

Every company innovates until it finds a cash cow. At that point only innovation that supports the cash cow is promoted. Further, any innovation that threatens or does not support the cash cow languishes or is actively killed. Eventually, most of the true innovation ceases as the innovators leave and start new companies and the cycle repeats.

A young company is like a thirsty animal in the desert, desperately sniffing and searching with all its might for a supply of sustenance that will allow it to survive the rigors of the market. If the animals energy runs out before it finds an oasis, or better still a river or a lake, then it dies. If it finds a source of water it survives. It’s all very basic and primal “circle of life” stuff.

If it finds an oasis in the desert can you blame it for not wanting to take another long open ended trek in the desert. The search for the initial revenue stream for a startup is strongly analogous. Once you find it, you don’t want to let it go. And therein lies the rub.

That very act of hanging on will eventually lead to stasis and then death.

The onus on us as a big company is to prove that we can still reinvent ourself, not to rest on past glories, and the cash cows of the past.

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