TIGER Talk Recap: The Titanic Syndrome Killed Many Companies. Are You Next?
The “death rate” of many companies is staggering. With 88% of Fortune 500 companies going out of business over the last 60 years, 50% of S&P companies gone in 10 years, and only 44% of today’s industry leaders holding their current positions for five years, companies are clearly dying. Why is this happening, and what is the cure?
Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva, “The Reinvention Guru,” is a business owner, educator, speaker, and author who specializes in reinvention. She was the TIGER Talent at Innovate New Albany on February 21, presenting a TIGER Talk called, “The Titanic Syndrome Killed Many Companies. Are you Next?”
Nadya said there are three reasons why companies fail, and they all center around lack of reinvention:
#1: We still operate as if we have time.
The hardest problem businesses have with reinvention is not why or what they need to reinvent. It’s WHEN they need to reinvent. If you start reinventing when your company is on the decline, failure is sure to result.
Nadya cited a survey that asked business owners how often they thought they needed to reinvent their companies in order to survive. 13.7% said every year or less; 33.6% said every two to three years; 32.4% said every four to five years; 12.1% said every 6-10 years; 5.5% said every 10-15 years; and 2.7% said every 18 years. Nadya said if you want to stay in business, you have to reinvent much faster than before.
We don’t have time, so the only way to safeguard our business is to start treating change like a norm—not an exception.
#2: Forget “if it’s not broken don’t fix it.”
This requires changing the mindset and culture of your company to something that is fun and easy, not a personal death. She described a company exercise conducted on the upswing called “Kill-the-Company,” where a group of employees, investors and management try to brainstorm all the ways a company could fail. This identifies risk and helps with the rational and emotional parts of change.
In other words, you need to find your weaknesses and break your company before someone else does.
#3: It’s not about the WHAT.
We keep treating each disruption as a unique event. Each wave of transformation leaves us exhausted and overwhelmed until it is time to face the next one. No matter what particular challenge or disruption your company is facing, it can be resolved with the same set of tools. Just like a skilled musician can play completely different compositions on the same instrument, you can handle any crisis with the same exact approach.
Nadya then defined the Titanic Syndrome: a corporate disease in which organizations facing disruption create their own downfall through arrogance, excessive attachment to past success, or inability to adapt to the new and emerging reality.
The Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912, was said to be an unsinkable ship, and Nadya shared historical information about everything that went wrong the night of the tragedy. Arrogance, lack of preparation, lack of testing, and lookouts without binoculars were just a few of the reasons the ship sunk. She aligned the similarities of this tragedy to the death and downfall of many companies.
If you’d like more information about the Nadya, her business, or this presentation, visit her website at www.Learn2Reinvent.com.
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