Organizational memory can be a heavy burden for established businesses, according to a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, “When Organizational Memory Stands in the Way.” It can result in outdated mindsets and assumptions, obsolete policies and practices, and underperforming products and services.
The authors cite Blackberry as an example; the company continued to focus on the physical keyboard when the market had moved to a touchscreen. As a result, its previously strong market share fell to single digits. It only recently launched a smartphone lineup to compete with Apple and other device-makers. But analysts are saying that it may be too little, too late.
Another example in business is e-commerce. I’m not sure anyone predicted how quickly e-commerce would become a normal part of our everyday lives. Many distributors big and small are working to catch up, realizing they can’t move forward without having some level of e-commerce functionality in place.
In this issue, we look at other shifts in our industry: I discuss the challenge of losing knowledge to baby boomer retirees in “The Hiring Disconnect in Distribution.” Many distributors are seeking younger employees and implementing training or mentoring programs to counteract the knowledge loss.
Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier’s interview with Bishop-Wisecarver Group’s Pamela Kan highlights the need to change the way we think about education as it relates to future careers in manufacturing if we want to continue to innovate as a country. Too often we get too focused on what the market looks like now, but according to Kan, the future is here in the form of 3D printing and other innovations that are changing the face of manufacturing. What are the implications for distributors?
And our feature article examines an industry – solar – that barely existed as a viable growth option 15 years ago. The industry is still evolving, and distributors, manufacturers and installers are trying to figure out their roles in it.
How can companies jolt themselves out of routine so that they recognize trends or new markets that might affect their future growth plans? One solution is to bring new voices to your planning process, including key customers, suppliers and youth.
Internal knowledge of markets and company strategy is no doubt valuable, but outsiders or the next generation of employees may highlight trends and ideas that may not have been considered – challenging assumptions and potentially opening up new sources of revenue and growth for your business.