Spotting the Next Big Breakthrough
Competition is stiff these days, and even the most secure business must be wary of new competitors, new market entrants and new technologies. In Blindsided, management consultant Jim Harris describes real-life examples of businesses that used to have stable industries, predictable customers and long-term strategic plans, and found themselves completely turned upside down in short periods of time. Throughout Blindsided, Harris explains how seemingly healthy companies that fail to recognize and respond quickly to market changes can actually be on their last legs but have not yet discovered the truth.
The first part of Blindsided provides examples of companies getting blindsided, and offers reasons why this is occurring with more frequency. When Polaroid filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, the icon of instant photography demonstrated that it had been blindsided by the rise of digital photography. Even Kodak was blindsided by this technological advance and suffered a 20 percent drop in sales from 1996 to 2001.
Microsoft was blindsided by the rise of the Web when Netscape's initial public offering (IPO) valued the company at $2 billion when it first hit the trading floor. Meanwhile, Microsoft's stock was downgraded by Goldman Sachs because it felt the software giant would become irrelevant in the Internet age.
Blindsided Airline Carriers
Harris says the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 blindsided the United States by killing more than 2,800 people and causing billions of dollars in damage, as well as pushing four airline carriers into bankruptcy from the resulting decline in travel. The events even pushed the U.S. economy deeper into recession.
The major record labels were blindsided by Napster when they failed to notice the possibilities of the MP3 file format. Detroit auto makers were blindsided by the Japanese auto makers. The list goes on and on.
Harris writes that the "key to avoid being blindsided is increasing the speed of recognizing and responding to change." Blindsided focuses on the systems and structures that decision makers can put into place to ensure their organization's capacity to recognize and respond to change quickly and effectively. After describing in detail numerous scenarios where companies have been blindsided by radical changes in their industries, he explains why decision makers must be attuned to all the changes taking place in their markets.
The second part of Blindsided presents readers with the new tools and techniques that can help leaders and organizations prepare for change. By offering systems and structures that can create alignment, Harris helps them handle the increasing speed and volume of information that can overwhelm individuals and smaller groups. He writes that the rate of change is so fast that no one person can have all the answers. To recognize and respond to change, he adds that change leaders must give up the notion of centralized control.
Harris explains how the Internet and other new technologies enable companies to deepen their relationship with customers and add value. Techniques such as accessing information in real-time, customer relationship management, scenario planning, and complexity resolution software can help organizations align with the needs of customers and help them think beyond the current structure of the company. The intricacies of each are explained, along with how they can be used to ward off catastrophe.
The last chapter of Blindsided provides individuals with new ways of looking at change that can help them cope with the amount and rate of change. Citing Taoist philosophy and natural law, Harris explains that individual change is essential for organizational and societal change to occur. By focusing on the personal level, he reminds his readers that embracing individual change is the first step in avoiding being blindsided because it is the area where we all have the greatest degree of control.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Blindsided is written for business leaders and front-line workers. Business leaders can use it to help them cope with the relentless change that is occurring in today's marketplace, and help them avoid missing the critical issues that are affecting their organizations. Front-line workers can benefit from the book's message that change is both inevitable and necessary by preparing them for the future and providing them with tools that increase their job security. By offering a wide perspective of business today and how change can affect everyone on many levels, Blindsided asks the questions we should all be asking ourselves and helps us find the answers in our own organizations.