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July 12, 2012


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Louis Gudema

Good post, David. So many companies fail in this area - Kodak, Blockbuster (which was approached by Netflix 10 years ago with the idea that they could be Blockbuster's streaming division), The Boston Globe (which was approach by Monster in the late 90s, and now look at what Craigslist is doing to Monster), etc., etc. ad nauseum.

Smug management that is afraid to cannibalize their own products will get eaten by others. The same applies to people who don't keep their skills current.

Louis Gudema
Vice President of Business Development
Overdrive Interactive

David Meerman Scott

Louis - Having worked at several companies in the middle of a transformation, I can say it is really tough.

At Knight-Ridder, a 100 year old newspaper company, it would have taken guts to argue in 1995 that the newspaper business was going downhill. I was in the electronic division - we were living the future. But on the newspaper side it was business as usual. The stock was high. Why rock the boat? But that's what needed to be said. Nobody in senior management saw it coming early enough to save the company.

Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron

Hi David:

Thanks for sharing the photo of the Polaroid site - as a former Boston area resident I drove past that building for years. I still remember the Polaroid name on their old HQ off Memorial Drive in Cambridge every time I see it. As much as we realize the reality of what happened to these businesses, it's still sad to see these signs disappear.


Bob Gaynor

Sounds like the problem described in The Innovator's Dilemma - eventually improvements to the old technology are not enough to keep up with the new technology, and companies who depend on the old technology fail. The answer seems to be a change to the old song ... keep old friends, but make new ones. One is gold now, the other will be gold later. So, who wants to vote: who's next? Will Microsoft fail because it didn't move away from Windows fast enough? Will any of today's car companies fail because they aren't selling an electric car?


So many get stuck with they are comfortable and miss out on innovative ideas of using what once served another purpose.

We see so many cases where people are told to recycle but only in a few we look to upcycle.

James Mignano


Your explanation of Polaroid's mistake sounds incredibly familiar. It happens to be the exact mistake that Kodak made.

I'm from Rochester, NY, so the story hits close to home for me, as well. You're right - its important to adapt your business over time!

James Mignano

website developers new york

If payphones fail completely the blame will not fall entirely on lack of consumer demand. Part of the blame would fall on the fact that payphones simply do not work when you need them.

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