RIM and the high school quarterback

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and we were talking about how some people look for ways to improve themselves and develop both personally and professionally while others don't. Certain individuals look for sources of learning and improvement, while others are content where they are. Then it occured to me that companies are the same way. Some companies are always looking for new ways to improve and grow, while others lay stagnant. Which do you think are more successful?

Which brings me to Research in Motion. By all accounts, RIM was a very successful company that is now on the decline. Just like the high school quarterback who was on top of the world in his senior year, then went to college and didn't study and didn't learn anything new and didn't take advantage of the opportunities he had been given. The story usually goes that the quarterback blows out his knee in his sophomore season and is never heard from again. Let's hope that RIM is not that quarterback who peaked in high school.

Here's what companies can do to avoid being the high school quarterback whose best years are well behind him:

  • Never rest on your laurels-always assume that you have to earn the business of your customers and that you need to invent new products and services that are better and faster in order to keep those customers.
  • Keep very close watch on the industry and where it is going-you should also watch other industries that might eventually merge with yours (as an examples, cell phones merging with audio listening devices).
  • Have the appropriate management in place depending on the stage of the company-some leaders are better managing growth, others at improving operations and still others at managing a turnaround.
  • Know when you need a change-too many organizations recognize much too late that a change in the organization is needed.

What steps are you taking to ensure your company's ongoing success and making certain you don't peak too early?

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