Tue, Jan 08, 2019

The Achilles Heel of Large Corporations (And How to Leverage Them)

Pretty much every established/incumbent company in pretty much any industry shares the same two Achilles heels – making them a ready target for their upstart competitors:

When it comes to future investments – the kind of investment which would allow an incumbent to leapfrog, leverage their often substantial resources and in-depth knowledge pools, and crush any startup, they tend to be held back by (1) a deep-rooted fear of the new cannibalizing the old and (2) an equally strong desire to keep leveraging the status quo instead of creating new capabilities.

This is excellent news for everyone without a legacy (I am looking at you startup founders!) and a good reminder for the incumbent to continuously keep checking in with themselves if the reason they are dragging their feet is due to one of these two factors.

For startups – analyze the incumbents in your market and see where their interests are so deeply entrenched in the status quo and old businesses; these are substantial open flanks for you to attack.

Also, for those of you who are working for an incumbent: Of course you know that cannibalization will happen no matter what – you might as well be the one who is doing the work. Moreover, never forget that to be successful you need to leap into new capabilities – which requires a constant move away from the status quo.

As the old African proverb goes:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you have to run.

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