Haris Ahmed of Chicago: Top 5 Examples of Businesses that Failed to Adapt

Leadership consultant Haris Ahmed is from Chicago and has provided high-level assistance to numerous organizations.

Businesses that fail to adapt are doomed to be taken over by their competition, or worse, file for bankruptcy. If you look back on history, you’ll see that it’s littered with names of companies that were once market giants but are now nothing more than has-beens. While business leaders of today arguably have it better—as they have the benefit of learning from mistakes made in the past—not all businesses find wisdom in their position and take advantage of the opportunity accorded to them.

To further highlight the importance of adapting, these examples of businesses that failed because they didn’t adapt will probably say it best:

#1: Kodak – A case study favorite, Kodak showed utter complacency with its film business. What was glaringly wrong on their part was their assumption that the film business would always be around. Surprisingly, Kodak squandered every opportunity it had to be the pioneer of digital photography. Not a lot of people know that Kodak actually invented digital photography, coming out with a digital camera in 1995, two long decades after inventing it.

#2: Nokia – Another classic example of what happens when businesses fail to adapt is the case of Nokia. The Finnish multinational company can take credit for bringing mobile phones to the masses, but their success quickly ran out of steam when Apple and Android came crashing the party. Nokia had underestimated the importance of software, clinging to their comfort zone in hardware too much and to their detriment.

#3: Motorola – For a time, Motorola was ahead of the game and could stand toe to toe with Nokia, for instance. However, what went wrong in Motorola’s case is that they were slow to innovate, and relied too much on their niche, which was fashionable but less tech-savvy mobile phones. As a result, the competition ate their market share and now, they have a new lease on life thanks to Google, one of the champions of innovation.

#4: Sony – Before there were mp3 players, iPods, and smart phones, there were Sony Walkmans. Like Kodak, Sony was considering pushing for digital formats, but ultimately didn’t until it was already too late. Sony was also on the same boat as Nokia in the sense that the Japanese tech giant neglected software in favor of hardware. In the end, Sony’s downfall from technology leadership has proven to be a painful and expensive lesson, and from the looks of it, the Japanese firm’s troubles won’t be ending any time soon.

#5: Palm – Like Nokia, Palm’s handheld devices were extremely popular back in the day, especially among working professionals. But where Palm invested heavily in its software, they dropped the ball in hardware with the PDA’s awful keyboard, overall design, and product marketing, which spelled the company’s tragic end. Just how tragic, you ask? For perspective, Palm’s shares traded at a high of $165. In 2010, HP was able to acquire Palm for a measly $5.70 per share.

To read more from Haris Ahmed, a Chicago consultant and leadership expert, stay tuned to this page for more updates.



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