In 1960, Theodore Levitt wrote a landmark article for the Harvard Enterprise Overview titled, “Advertising and marketing Myopia.” When it was republished in 2004, HBR editors stated the article, “launched probably the most influential advertising and marketing thought of the previous half century.”
In a quintessential passage within the article, Levitt defined the decline of railroads in phrases which have change into half of the material of enterprise:
“The railroads didn’t cease rising as a result of the necessity for passenger and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in bother at present not as a result of that want was stuffed by others (automobiles, vehicles, airplanes, and even telephones), however as a result of it was not stuffed by the railroads themselves. They let others take clients away from them as a result of they assumed themselves to be within the railroad enterprise relatively than within the transportation enterprise.”
In essence, Levitt argued that railroads fell into decline as a result of they remained tied to their previous, whereas technological and different developments gave clients more practical methods to satisfy their transportation wants.
The tendency to stay with what’s labored up to now even because the aggressive atmosphere adjustments is one of the most important risks dealing with enterprise and advertising and marketing leaders. All sorts of firms design and implement enterprise processes and develop a set of values with the intention to accomplish sure targets and information operations. Over time, these processes and values change into half of an organization’s DNA.
When market, aggressive, or technological circumstances change, most enterprise and advertising and marketing leaders often reply by making incremental adjustments to their current processes and values – even when the true answer is to do one thing new. As Don Peppers wrote a few years ago, “. . . we go to larger and larger lengths to protect our conventional routines, till fairly quickly we’re crossing a whole ocean simply to have the ability to do issues the way in which we have at all times finished them . . .”
The Want for Clear Slate Thinking
The best technique to fight this harmful tendency is to periodically analyze the market atmosphere and basic enterprise points from the angle of a brand new enterprise. In different phrases, it’s worthwhile to step away out of your current methods and practices and ask: What would we do if we had been beginning our firm from scratch in at present’s market atmosphere? What would we do to maximise our probabilities for achievement given present market circumstances?
Thinking this manner is tough as a result of it would not come naturally to most of us. Plus, some individuals will query the worth of this method as a result of it is inherently unrealistic. No current enterprise ever works with a very clear slate; it at all times has assets, processes, and values that outline what the enterprise is and restrict the actions it will probably take.
Nonetheless, this “unrealistic” manner of considering if vitally necessary as a result of:
- It brings vulnerabilities to the floor and makes them seen. If there are important variations between your present methods and practices and people you’d use for those who had been ranging from scratch, these variations probably represent aggressive weaknesses.
- It is going to incessantly reveal the significance of adopting new enterprise and advertising and marketing methods, and thus present the impetus for making tough adjustments.