Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Experience – A Dangerous Asset?

The recent announcement that RIM, the parent company of the BlackBerry, was lowering the price of its tablet, called the PlayBook, to $199 is a clear indication that the company is beginning to realize how late it was to the tablet market and how pedestrian the product is.

Only four years ago, when you went to a business meeting, virtually everyone was checking their BlackBerry. At that time, it was a badge of modernity! RIM’s stock price matched that leadership reputation, having soared from just over $10/share in early 2004 to $130 in early 2008.

While the company still has 70 million users worldwide, RIM is a company that is in a sever tailspin. Its stock is at $17/share and now when you go to that business meeting, the BlackBerry user is viewed as a dinosaur!

This sounds just like IBM’s near bankruptcy in the early 1990’s, the demise of DEC, and the recent GM bankruptcy. A key reason why this happens: Executives with deep experience in the areas of the company’s prior success! Humans tend to get proud when they are successful, they lose their sense of urgency and they get protective of what got them there. All of that leads to lack of competitiveness. RIM’s co-CEO’s have been in place since 1992; a huge risk for RIM.

Here are the lessons;

Insert Fresh Talent Regularly – You need to constantly select people for key assignments who come from very different areas.

Create a Culture of Change – Constantly preach that disaster is right around the corner and you are only as good as your latest new idea.

Protect Your Innovators – Your “experienced” employees will look for every opportunity to slow things down.

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