The Importance of Reinvention
The biggest threat to organizations is success. You read that correctly—it was by no means a typo. Success comes with a natural mindset to create a stable environment not open to change, which paralyzes organizations. From youth baseball teams to Kodak, there are endless examples of this theory in existence. Now more than ever remains a crucial time for the printing industry to utilize a new mindset on how to move forward with its “knees bent” to continuously adapt and survive amongst changed market conditions.
My professor began teaching his youth baseball team the fundamentals of the game through a simple grounding exercise. When a ball would approach a player on the ground they were instructed to pick it up and throw it back. Within a short period of time the team easily mastered this task. However, when a ball would roll just a bit off to the side of a player, they all watched and never moved a muscle. Instead, as soon as it rolled past them they simply ran after the ball and threw it back. Why did this happen? It would have been so simple for the players to move over and get the ball. However, when we get good at something, we naturally want to continue being good at it and resist the nature to change.
This same exact effect is seen in the Kodak corporation. In 1976 the company accounted for 90 percent of film and 85 percent of camera sales in the United States. I would call this a success to say the least. For decades Kodak perfected its business model, which peaked in 1996 to $16 billion. However, when it came time for digital photography to replace film technology and for smartphones to replace cameras, Kodak just like the youth baseball team, watched the ball roll right past them. Holding onto the film cash cow—that for years had worked so well—the organization failed to take the opportunity to change and adjust towards the reality of changed market conditions and rival technologies.
So how do organizations address this problem? I believe transforming the traditional mindset of management into leadership is the solution to shaping the overall identity of the organization to consistently seek and embrace change. Managers more than often are focused on tasks towards creating a stable, unchanging environment. They are not there to create change, which we see as a recurring theme leading to failure. Transformational leadership on the other hand, demonstrates the ability to look beyond maintaining stable conditions and introduces change at the individual, team, and cultural level.
For a large amount of the remaining commercial printers, offering only ink on paper is long over. I hope companies can clearly see the change that must occur even amongst past or current success. How media today is created and distributed comes from a direct impact through the rapidly growing presence of mobile, Web and social media. With the adoption of cross-media services, print no longer is a majority holder when it comes to media distribution. I view this as a time in the industry full of opportunity to reinvent ourselves to better serve the needs of brand owners in their pursuit of conveying a message at the right time to the right audience through unique media channels.