You’re probably familiar with the tale of the grasshopper and the ants. That funny, eager-to-enjoy grasshopper, hopping around and singing while a group of ants is working hard to ensure a good living in winter. And how it was too late for the grasshopper to survive with no food once the summer was gone.
In the spring, prepare for the winter
Creating good conditions for innovation is a challenge. Yet, there are many companies in the world that have the right culture, good professionals, enough amount of money and committed leaders to get to that.
Once there, when the spring finally came, there is a big temptation on just enjoying the results and transform that innovation into money.
Yahoo was one of the first companies from the dot.com time created in 1994. The web portal dominated the market with millions of active users and massive benefits.
Due to their great success, they lost sight of what have led them there. By the 2000-decade, Yahoo dominated the market for many services: Yahoo Mail (over Gmail), Yahoo Answers (over Quora) and Flickr (over Instagram). And instead of investing in innovation (to experiment more products and enlarge customer base and bringing more traffic) they chose to acquire some internet companies (Broadcast.com, Geocities and Tumblr among others).
As a result, in 2016, Yahoo got acquired by Verizon. And the spring didn’t come any more.
When the winter comes, be bold
Jack Ma, CEO of the Alibaba Group, said that “David is always a hero until he becomes a Goliath”. Time when a lot of new David will try to beat you.
In 2004, eBay decided to enter the Chinese market and by the time Jack Ma was alarmed that “someday, eBay would come in our direction”. As a defensive strategy, he decided to launch a competing auction site, just to prevent eBay from taking away Alibaba’s customers in case they came. The new website was named Taobao.
To make the long story short, by March 2006, Taobao had outpaced eBay and became the leader in China’s market, with 67% of the customer-to-customer market share. eBay quit soon after that.
Don’t lose track of your central mission
In both cases, the leader’s mindset and the company’s culture made the difference. The question is how you, leader, can sustain the right conditions once the company has succeeded for some extent.
Your company needs to focus. And that’s the leader’s role when spring comes.
Making the right questions and promoting an innovative thinking can be part of the answer. Innovation to help your central mission; to be better and go a step further.
You only can do that by embracing innovation as a change of mindset. It should not be something about process and procedures but a way of working.
Being ready for the next leap is not something you can do while enjoying the spring.
Going back to the fable of the grasshopper and the ants, you need to prepare for the future!