Successful companies often hesitate to change until it is too late because they forget who they really are. Instead they become obsessed with protecting the physical manifestation of how they make money.
This is what happened to the publishing industry. Year after year publishers sold so many books that they assumed they were in the book industry. But such a view is too narrow. In reality, publishers are in the business of telling stories that engage people, and the book is just one of many vehicles to deliver it. The success of the printed book over several decades led publishers to forget what they really were, and so many of them missed out on technological developments that had a huge impact on their industry.
Kodak, too, fell into the same trap. The success of the analog camera made Kodak believe that its market was photographic film. But Kodak’s real market was capturing memories, not photographic film. Because the company never really grasped this concept, it failed to stay relevant in a market switching from film to digital. The phone camera arrived and ate Kodak’s lunch.
A company is never just the physical manifestation of how it makes money. It is something more and something deeper than that.
When you invest your emotional shares into who you are, rather than what you are making, then you can adapt to a changing business landscape before it’s too late.