A recent article published by the New York Times sparked my attention. It was titled “Google, Mighty Now, but not Forever“ and began as follows:
Technology giants often meet their end not with a bang but a whimper, a slow, imperceptible descent into irrelevancy that may not immediately be reflected in the anodyne language of corporate earnings reports. Old kingpins like Digital Equipment and Wang didn’t disappear overnight. They sank slowly, burdened by maintenance of the products that made them rich and unable to match the pace of technological change around them.
The journalist goes further and observes: “The tech giant is trying to evolve beyond a search behemoth… but its strengths today may turn out to be its weakness tomorrow.” Indeed, its highly successful search engine performs best on desktop browsers — when the bulk of the ad business is shifting towards mobile. To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith’s great book, the capabilities that got them here — a company with $14.4 billion in profits in 2014 — won’t get them there (the areas where they want to be strong in 30 years).
Like Gary Hamel, I tend to appreciate Google GOOGL -0.16% and its constant efforts to re-invent itself. At the same time, I have seen many industry icons unexpectedly stumble and collapse. Could Google, or even your company (if it is an undisputed leader in the industry) experience the same downfall? Here are a few things to consider:
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