Dismissing Competitors’ Successes

In a previous blog post, we talked about the six blindfolds and in our book Reinvention, I go into each one in more depth with real-life examples. Let’s take a look at Microsoft: They had multiple blindfolds, but the most obvious was blindfold three: dismissing competitors’ successes.

Microsoft continues to refuse to give Apple credit for their great success this past decade. We had a chance to visit Microsoft headquarters recently in Redmond, Washington, and meet with a key executive over strategy and market research. We were anxious to find out before our visit ended how Microsoft perceived Steve Jobs and Apple’s incredible success. Our Microsoft executive obliged. And we were shocked at what we heard.

In a period of five minutes, this executive expressed three times that Apple’s success was simply a matter of “luck.”

He explained that Steve Jobs was initially going to open his risky retail outlets with only one product to sell: the computer. He then explained that Apple stores would have certainly failed, except that the iPod luckily came along at just the right time. We were stunned. Apple’s success was based on luck? In a period of ten years, Steve Jobs helped to create seven new industries, not to mention his launch of successful retail stores. It was hardly a matter of luck.

The antidote to organizational blindness is what we call Reinvention Agility.

Reinventive Agile people and organizations embrace change as an ongoing fact and a cost of doing business. They approach new industries, new technologies, new restrictions, and other disruptions with a glass-half-full mind-set. They look for opportunities to take their game to the next level when shockwaves come at them.

Microsoft is still behind Apple and will continue to be unless they take off the blindfold and acknowledge Apple’s success. Maybe they could learn a thing or two?

Becky Schrumm

Boston, MA