An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “EarthLink a painful lesson: Innovators often lose edge,” offers some lessons about innovation.
From the article:
“The past is punctuated with stories of companies that accelerated to success and then spun out at the next turn in the road. Some were crushed in the market: Atari, Ronco, Osborne Computer. Some had the need for their product disappear completely: makers of buggy whips, for instance. Some were replaced by companies that manufactured products that did what theirs did, only better: makers of typewriters, vacuum tubes, Super-8 film and eight-track cassettes. Old-style, 35 mm film may be joining that group.
Paradoxically, companies can get into trouble by sticking with what made them succeed, said Alan Weiss, president of Rhode Island-based Summit Consulting Group. “They get better and better at a narrow thing.” Surfers on technology waves find that, eventually, what was leading edge turns mundane. Companies that used to compete by offering special features and cool techniques suddenly find themselves selling a cut-rate commodity.”
The one thing these have in common: survival of the most adaptable.