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Make Empires, Not Star Destroyers August 7, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Leadership.
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It’s important that leaders do not narrowly define their company. One must broadly define the enterprise so the company is prepared for the future. The classic Earth example describes a company that made drills, and consultants told them “You don’t make drills, you make holes”, implying their tools are drills today, but their core business is actually making holes, and if a new technology such as lasers comes along, they must be prepared to make lasers, not drills. Defining your company too narrowly also applied to the classic Earth railroad companies who saw themselves in the “railroad industry” vs. the transportation industry. If they had that vision, they would have branched out into the trucking and air-cargo industry.

In today’s modern world, Kodak is a prime example of a company who defined themselves too narrowly and almost faced bankruptcy because of the digital camera revolution. Kodak made film, but in reality they should have positioned themselves as a company that “captured memories”, which was film in the 1980’s, digital camera’s today, and will be holographic in the future.

Apple is a company who had vision to leap beyond being a computer maker, to a company that provides technology for our lives, illustrated by the iPod, iPhone and other consumer electronics.

Whatever industry your company is in, take a step back and broadly define what your core business is. Keep an eye out for future trends and technology to make sure your drills don’t become obsolete. We don’t make Star Destroyers, we make Empires.

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