Company Survival 101: You Must Continually Reinvent and Redefine, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, AMerican ex pat, Saudi Arabia, May 31, 2013

 Company Survival 101: You Must Continually Reinvent and Redefine, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, AMerican ex pat, Saudi Arabia, May 31, 2013

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130531121424-48342529-survival-101-you-must-continually-reinvent-and-redefine-part-i?trk=tod-home-art-medium_1

Daniel Burrus

Best Selling Author, Global Futurist & Innovation Expert, Entrepreneur, Strategic Advisor & Keynote Speaker
Company Survival 101: You Must Continually Reinvent and Redefine
May 31, 2013
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As a CIO, you are keenly aware that rapid change in business and technology is the “new normal.” However, in the 21st Century, “change” is actually too weak a descriptor.

Today, it’s all about transformation. This means you can’t go backward, and you can’t stand still. You can’t rest on your laurels and you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done — even if you do your best to keep doing it better.

The only way for your company to survive, let alone thrive, is to continuously reinvent and redefine.

Reinvent and redefine what? Everything.

Today’s transformation is an accelerated, magnified force of change. Redefining and reinventing is a way of harnessing that wild horse and hooking it to a product, a service, an industry, or a career.

In a sense, transformation is a hard trend (a Definite), while reinvention is a soft trend (a Maybe). Transformation is going to happen, all around us and to us, whether we want it to or not. Reinvention, on the other hand, will happen only if we make the decision to do it. If we don’t, someone else will.

In the coming years, dramatic new developments are going to be flying at you so fast, from so many places and so many competitors, that it will be easier than ever to become overwhelmed. In a transformational time, disruption multiplies. The only solution to this increasing dilemma is to become experts at reinventing our companies, our products, our services … essentially everything we do.

Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich reinvented an entire marketplace in 1983 when they redefined the family station wagon. At the time, station wagon sales were not growing, even though baby boomers were in their prime childbearing years and the nation was bursting with new families.

A puzzle: why, if they needed the product, were they not buying the product? Because purchases are more emotional than logical, and are often statements of identity as much as—or more than—a rational act of fulfilling a practical need. Baby boomers may have needed a set of wheels with substantial family room, but they did not want to look and act just like their parents, even if that’s exactly what they were doing most of the time. Baby boomers did not want to identify themselves as a generation of people who drive station wagons.

But vans? They were kind of cool (at the time)—and more important, their parents never drove vans. Chrysler introduced the Dodge Caravan in November 1983, creating an entire automotive category—the minivan—that they would continue to dominate for the next quarter century. It was a stroke of flash foresight, based on the hard trend of baby boomers and their needs (along with the eternal insight that people don’t want to look or act like their parents).

It used to be that corporate and product reinvention was an option; today it is an imperative. We live today in a unique context, an environment we’ve never seen or experienced before. We have never had this kind of processing power and bandwidth, this kind of runaway acceleration in technological capacity, and it has completely transformed our relationship to the concept of stability. In the past, stability and change were two contrasting states: when you achieved stability, you did so despite change. Today change itself has become an integral part of stability: today you can achieve stability only by embracing change as a continuous and permanent state.

In the past, great companies and great figures like Iacocca might have innovated and then gone for another decade before doing anything innovative again. In those days, that worked. It doesn’t work anymore. The world has changed, and more important, change itself has changed. Information and new knowledge now travel around the world at the speed of light, and technological innovation proceeds at close to the speed of thought. Today you cannot just reinvent now and then: to survive and thrive in a time of vertical change, you have to be redefining and reinventing yourself continuously.

You now have an urgent question in front of you: are your customers changing faster than you are? Are they learning faster than you are? Because they are changing and learning fast—and if you are not already designing and providing the solutions to the problem they are going to have next week and next year, you are behind a curve you cannot afford to be behind.

Reinvent Everything
Realize that redefine and reinventis not only about transforming the products and services we offer; it’s about transforming how we do everything.

For example, Amazon redefined not only the bookstore but also the shopping experience itself. Southwest redefined the air travel experience, transforming our expectations of something costly, inconvenient, and irritating to something inexpensive, easy, and enjoyable. Apple redefined the PC and has continued to redefine everything it touches, from phones to how we listen to music to how we purchase entertainment.

Reinventing is not the same thing as adding a feature, a tweak, or a twist. Once something is reinvented, it never goes back to being the way it was before because reinvention harnesses the power of transformation. Blogs redefined the news industry. Twitter reinvented blogs and communication. Mark Burnett (creator of Survivor, The Apprentice, et al.) reinvented television.

Now here’s an interesting question: when the American auto industry collapsed in 2009, instead of giving federal bailouts to bankrupt GM and Chrysler so they could go back to doing business the same old way, why did we not use the catastrophe as an opportunity to completely reinvent the American automobile?

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to dig in our heels, protect, and defend our existing turf. How do we get past that reflex and build our businesses and our lives on a foundation of continuous self-reinvention?

Forget the Competition
One way to get past the protect-and-defend impulse is to jettison some of our most cherished core principles of the competitive marketplace—principles that used to work. In fact, we need to redefine and reinvent the concept of competition itself.

When it comes to the competitive environment, there are two things you can be sure of: (1) competition is more intense today than it was a year ago, and (2) a year from now it will be even more so. How will you survive in an increasingly competitive world? By not competing.

The old rule was to do what the other guy is doing, only do it either cheaper or better. Price and quality: these are the two great classic parameters of competition. But in a world gone vertical, this entire concept is obsolete. As change accelerates and pressure increases, there is a natural tendency to focus on what the competition is doing, but doing so is a recipe for disaster, because it mires you in a futile and never-ending game of catch-up while distracting your focus away from where it needs to be: on the visible future.

Trying to compete is a scarcity-thinking game; the organizations that are winning in the new century don’t bother competing. Instead, they leapfrog the competition by redefining anything and everything about their business.

For example, Marlin Steel Wire Products, a Baltimore-based manufacturing company, faced stiff and growing competition from China and its incredibly low labor costs, until president Drew Greenblatt decided to stop trying to play the competition game. Leaving the low-margin end of the market to the Chinese, Greenblatt automated his production line and began specializing in more high-end products like antimicrobial baskets for restaurant kitchens, finding customers for his higher-priced product line in places like Japan and Belgium. Marlin’s sales grew from $800,000 in 1998 to $3 million in 2007.

Earlier I mentioned that Amazon redefined both the bookshop and the shopping experience. Brick-and-mortar bookstores that compete on price have been, for the most part, driven out of business by online bookstores like Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, which offer an unbeatable combination of price, convenience, and book availability. In the late nineties, people were predicting that the huge Barnes & Noble superstores would disappear. But they didn’t. The brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble stores survived because they provide an experience that online shopping cannot.

Barnes & Noble decided that a bookstore should be more than a place to shop and buy books. Before Amazon and the Web came along, Barnes reinvented the book-buying experience based on a blinding flash of the obvious: most people who go into bookstores love books and reading. So why not provide them a place to do that? They created a unique and total experience focusing on the joy of reading, lifelong learning, and discovery, a place where you could relax, read, and learn, and not just shop.

Amazon used technology to redefine how we shop for books. But Barnes & Noble found and focused on their uniqueness, doing what their competitor couldn’t.

Note that Barnes & Noble competed based not on price but on customer experience. Shopping at Wal-Mart is not a great experience, but you can’t beat their prices: they compete on price. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tastes good, but they don’t compete on just taste, or on price—they compete on values: Ben & Jerry’s has been a strong advocate (and financial contributor) for various social issues from their earliest days in business. Zappos competes on customer service. Apple competes on design, customer experience,and innovation. Here is a partial list of all the things you can compete on:

price
reputation
image
service
quality
design
time/speed
values
customer experience
innovation
knowledge
loyalty
And there are more. You could compete on just one item from this list, or two—but why not use reinvent and redefine to compete on them all? Look at each one and ask, “How can I redefine how we compete on _____” and then fill in the blank. If you don’t, someone else will.

# # #

DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of Flash Foresight.

America, It’s Time to Start Making Things Again, http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130531164404-71871-america-it-s-time-to-start-making-things-again?trk=tod-home-art-large_0

America, It's Time to Start Making Things Again, http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130531164404-71871-america-it-s-time-to-start-making-things-again?trk=tod-home-art-large_0

Dylan Tweney

Executive Editor at VentureBeat

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130531164404-71871-america-it-s-time-to-start-making-things-again?trk=tod-home-art-large_0

Making things has deep roots in American culture.

The Founding Fathers were do-it-yourselfers, from Jefferson’s explicit idealization of the self-sufficient yeoman farmer to Franklin’s intrepid experimentation with electricity. Over the centuries, a return to this kind of independent DIY spirit has helped fuel the Industrial Revolution, the radio era of the early 20th century, the hippie movement (the part of it exemplified by the Whole Earth catalog, anyway) and punk rock.

Along the way, America became the greatest industrial nation on Earth, creating airplanes, cars, electronics, computers, and eventually the Internet.

Then we gradually started relocating factories overseas, as we grew to value inexpensive goods made by cheap labor over arguably better-quality products made by skilled (and relatively expensive, often union) labor at home. Americans pursued other, more lucrative and more stimulating careers than factory work.

That made sense, for awhile, as global markets enabled “labor arbitrage” and let the U.S. concentrate on areas where it still held a competitive advantage: design, engineering, software, marketing, advertising.

At the same time, Americans as individuals stopped getting their hands dirty. Fifty years ago every car owner had to know something about basic repair; today, people who can fix their own cars are rare. (Cars themselves are nearly impossible to repair for the home mechanic anyway, given the profusion of electronics under the hood — but they’re also far more reliable than the cars of 50 years ago, so home repairs are less necessary.) Fewer and fewer people do their own home repairs, plumbing, gardening, canning, or clothes making and mending.

In short, while we stopped making things on an industrial scale, we also stopped making and fixing things at home. Our economy shifted towards software and services, and our personal lives shifted toward the Internet and Walmart.

This is a broad generalization, but the arc of the shift seems clear. America, by and large, has been content to let other people make stuff for us in the physical world, while we concentrate on the bits. No computers are made in the U.S., apart from a few of their components. No smartphone has ever been made here, again, excepting a few components, such as Gorilla Glass (made by Corning in Kentucky).

But there are signs that the trend is starting to reverse.

Getting our hands dirty again

Motorola, a longstanding American electronics company that fell on hard times and got bought by Google a year and a half ago, is reopening a phone factory near Forth Worth, Texas. It will assemble the company’s latest phone, the Moto X, which Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside says will be the first U.S.-built smartphone ever. It will employ 2,000 people to do so.

Now, Motorola is a much smaller company than it used to be, with just 3 percent of the smartphone market. But what about General Electric, one of the titans of our industrial economy? It too is starting to look at relocating jobs.

“The era of labor arbitrage is ending,” General Electric chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said this week at D11, a tech conference in southern California. Thanks to new manufacturing technologies that reduce the amount of labor required, he said, “you can basically make whatever you want, wherever you want.”

And at the same time, the DIY spirit is enjoying a resurgence as a growing number of people, disillusioned with bland, prefab corporate culture, are embracing the joys of making their own stuff. “Maker culture” has become a thing, with hundreds of hackerspaces opening up across the country where people can use tools, learn how to solder, or just hang out and work on projects with others. Libraries are starting to offer similar workspaces. Some towns are getting tool lending libraries. And O’Reilly’s Maker Faire has grown from a once-a-year event in San Mateo, Calif. to a franchise that happens all over the country (and the world), with four events in four different cities this year.

There’s even a growing array of startups coming out of the maker movement, as entrepreneurs realize that iPhone apps, photo-sharing sites and ad-supported social networks aren’t the only way to make a business — you can create useful things in the real world, too, and sell them.

In short, many people are growing tired of a world where everything is made (probably of plastic) somewhere overseas, perhaps in wildly unsafe factories, packaged in cardboard and more plastic, hung on a peg in your local big-box store, and brought home in the back of your minivan.

They are realizing that getting your hands dirty is fun.

Making things is good business

It’s also good business. If a captain of industry like Immelt is saying that the era of shipping manufacturing overseas is ending, I pay attention. His reasoning is that GE’s real product is not the physical goods, but rather the process that it takes to create them. They can deliver that “code” anywhere in the world.

Manufacturing, it turns out, is also more of a competitive advantage than many companies previously believed. Apple understood this early on, and forged extremely tight relationships with its Asian suppliers. Coupling engineering tightly together with manufacturing helps make better products.

While Apple was able to pull that off while spanning the Pacific, most companies don’t have its clout. For them, locating factories in the U.S. can actually make them more competitive.

Motorola’s Woodside put it simply: “When your phone manufacturing is thousands of miles away from your designers and your engineers, you lose the ability to innovate.” By putting its factory in Fort Worth, Woodside says, “We think that’s going to allow us to innovate and iterate much faster.”

Motorola’s senior vice president of advanced projects Regina Dugan put it in an even broader context. “I believe this country was founded by makers and creators,” she told me earlier this week. “We are not only consumers. We are also creators. I think it speaks to a very foundational human desire to make things. And I think we have to return to that as a country.”

GE and Motorola are just two examples of how American industry is shifting the way it thinks about manufacturing. But if you put their moves together with the DIY trend, I think there are reasons to be cautiously hopeful about the future of making stuff in the United States.

So let’s get to work.

———-

Top photo: Another American manufacturer: Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, examines robot arms in the Tesla plant in Fremont, Calif. Some rights reserved by jurvetson

DOG HEIRS

Here, are the facts. I went back to DOG HEIRS where this story is posted. The man here is being attacked by many people because some think the dog is too old to be on this journey. The owner is claiming the dog is not blind, and has some hearing. The story overall is true – but, where some people are expressing negative views about what he is doing with this dog – I have not done that here. I object to this criticism from his mother who is clearly upset and is randomly attacking anyone at large – even people who support her son – and think what he is doing is a great journey for he and his dog. It is my view that the dog is well cared for – appears to be good health – and the story is true – he also volunteered for these pictures – and told his story to the author – it seems she got some of the facts wrong – but, the substance is true – now, if you think her son is doing wrong – just look at the health of the dog and the happiness of this pair – and stand down – reconsider your words before attacking people – and that includes the mother who attacked me – for posting this as a positive – not as a negative. So, it appears that we all can get it wrong. Have a great day. Good luck Zeus and Joseph…enjoy your journey together in peace and happiness. Posted from Saudi Arabia

Wind Drinker

DOG HEIRS

DogHeirs
Like This Page · 15 hours ago

This is Joseph and his 15 year old deaf and slightly blind dog named Zeus, who he has raised since birth. Joseph says, “I dont want Zeus to just die, He has cared for me more than I have cared for him”, so Joseph is doing something amazing with Zeus. Ellie shared her story of meeting Joseph and Zeus with us here:

http://www.dogheirs.com/dogsarefamily/posts/3312-man-takes-his-15-year-old-dog-on-one-last-amazing-journey-photos

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Curiosity cat, was drawn on behalf of Lamia, because her innate personality, reminds me of one who is delicately curious about the world around her. Drawn by Belinda Baardsen, Artist, Wind Drinker, Artist for Rescue Animals, Saudi Arabia, May 27, 2013

Curiosity cat, was drawn on behalf of Lamia, because her innate personality, reminds me of one who is delicately curious about the world around her.   Drawn by Belinda Baardsen, Artist, Wind Drinker, Artist for Rescue Animals, Saudi Arabia, May 27, 2013

Curiosity cat, was drawn on behalf of Lamia, because her innate personality, reminds me of one who is delicately curious about the world around her.

Drawn by Belinda Baardsen, Artist, Wind Drinker, Artist for Rescue Animals, Saudi Arabia, May 27, 2013

This is my rescue cat, Ping Pong, and he is a very good friend of mine. If it had been up to the man who tossed him into a bag to drown him, we would have never met, but, fate stepped in, and he’s here with me now, and has been with me for 8 years. He’s a great cat, and I encourage you to adopt your next cat from a shelter where so many cats are put down because no one wants them. They shop rather than adopt… please… these fur children are dying for your love… literally.

This is my rescue cat, Ping Pong, and he is a very good friend of mine. If it had been up to the man who tossed him into a bag to drown him, we would have never met, but, fate stepped in, and he's here with me now, and has been with me for 8 years. He's a great cat, and I encourage you to adopt your next cat from a shelter where so many cats are put down because no one wants them. They shop rather than adopt... please... these fur children are dying for your love... literally.

This is my rescue cat, Ping Pong, and he is a very good friend of mine. If it had been up to the man who tossed him into a bag to drown him, we would have never met, but, fate stepped in, and he’s here with me now, and has been with me for 8 years. He’s a great cat, and I encourage you to adopt your next cat from a shelter where so many cats are put down because no one wants them. They shop rather than adopt… please… these fur children are dying for your love… literally.