Losing your way, creating a new way

Many companies lose their way at some point.

Many lead the way, then either get side-tracked, have a couple of poor quarters, or get ambushed by a competitor emulating their early days with a product or service they didn’t see coming.

Digital Equipment did it to IBM.

Virgin Atlantic did it to British Airways.

Sun Microsystems did it to Digital Equipment.

Apple may be doing it to Microsoft, after Microsoft did it to Apple.

Altium (my former employer) is doing it to Cadence and Mentor Graphics.

Just about everyone has done it to the US motor industry.

In many cases, the usurped often tries to hang on to its former leadership position by looking over its shoulder at the oncoming interloper. And at that moment, the leader can lose its way.

I used to learn to fly, and like many novice pilots became preoccupied with what was going on inside the cockpit, and would over-compensate for any slight gust of wind. I always remember my instructor telling me one day to look out of the cockpit window and concentrate on where I wanted to go. At that point, I started to correct and adjust more instinctively, simply by looking at the horizon.

And if a hill or other obstacle came into view, or if the weather turned, I found a new way.

So don’t look over your shoulder.

Create a new position, find a new way.

In business and in public relations, never define yourself by another.

Always create your own position so that it relates to your own way. Ignore the tendency for media, bloggers and others to focus on your past, how your days might be numbered, how you might have lost market share to a new competitor, how the market has changed around you. What would they know, and how would they know?

If you lose your way, take a deep breath and find (and then have conversations about) a new one.

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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