There are countless examples of solidly established companies that reinvented themselves. They developed successful new products or business models. Most times, they were seeking new ways to solve customer problems. Many times, their reinventions were seemingly unnecessary. Many of these companies held enviable industry positions with cash-cow products or services. Some examples are:
- Corning Glass – Evolved from producing glass for light bulbs, to producing Pyrex cookware, to producing optical fiber for telecommunications, to producing Gorilla Glass for cell phone screens.
- Netflix – Pivoted from delivering DVDs via US Mail to offering streaming movies.
- IBM – Migrated from producing computer hardware to offering business and technical consulting services.
- Microsoft – Shifted from selling software licenses to offering software subscriptions.
- Hilti – Changed from producing and selling high-end construction tools to leasing construction equipment to contractors.
- Dow Corning – Adjusted from producing high-cost customized silicone products to developing commoditized silicone products.
- Apple – Advanced from producing personal computers to producing handheld devices to offering streaming music, movies, and TV programming.
In hindsight, these innovations are easy to recognize as winners. But at the time they were being developed, they seemed to threaten the successful business models or products from which they evolved.
Why did the companies that innovated in those ways do it? They did it because they’re resilient. And resilient companies understand constant innovation is necessary to their survival. They don’t innovate because they feel threatened. They innovate to preclude the possibility that they will be threatened. They innovate to make sure they won’t be threatened.
Foresight seems to be built into their DNA. Since their markets, their suppliers, their competitors, their customers, and technologies are constantly changing, those companies recognize they have to keep changing, too. They’re resilient because they change in ways that continue to provide value to they customers. The fact that their changes also create new markets and new customers doesn’t hurt, either.
Whether you call what those companies do reinvention, innovation, change, evolution, or just good business, it’s required for resilience.
That’s why they’re all still here.