Borders going out of business

Technological revolutions kill over 90% of traditional organizations according to Clayton Christensen, the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Those that do survive always create a separate organization that rides the waves of change and benefits from new thinking and developing first mover advantages. At the same time the legacy business must develop new markets and new sources of revenue as the old ones whither and disappear (Blockbuster, Borders, etc.). Traditional thinking and practices can be transformed by focusing relentlessly on understanding the customer, giving them what they want, and jettisoning systems, departments, and managers that are no longer contributing to success (growing by becoming smaller and better).

Ideas and creativity must be rewarded. A culture that supports quick development, testing, and learning contributes to innovation and growth and attracts the best talent. Developing multiple autonomous business units allows for unique approaches and different ways of thinking. A constant flow of new, young, diverse talent keeps things fresh and challenging. Fostering a spirit of competition between units serves to push development further faster. Rewarding collaboration helps everybody benefit from best practices and new understanding.

Writing and publishing are in the middle of a revolution made possible by a variety of factors including ebooks, online retailing, print-on-demand, social media, globalization, and self-publishing. Publishers continue to benefit from their traditional revenue models while recognizing that readers’ preferences are changing. Authors have more opportunities but also face unprecedented demands on their time and capabilities.

Multiple voices claim to understand the times and offer conflicting advice with little evidence that their recommendations have been proven reliable. Authors and publishers must study, learn, adapt, collaborate, innovate, and make the hard choices required to survive and succeed.

How are you participating in the revolution rather than being overwhelmed by it?

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