Today’s successful brands didn’t get where they are by conforming to their peers or simply meeting market expectations. Rather, they unearthed new ideas that revolutionized their industry, reinvented themselves in provocative ways — and ultimately showed their ability to adapt and innovate in today’s fast-moving world.
They are, in other words, changemakers.
“To be effective in this new world, you will need to master the skills of empathy and teamwork, as well as leadership and driving change,” wrote Ashoka’s Bill Drayton and Valeria Budinich in Harvard Business Review. “You will need to know how to function in a world that is not a hierarchy but a kaleidoscopic global team of teams, with no boundaries between sectors and change that happens at an escalating pace.”
Companies of all sizes should consider embracing change to succeed in today’s world. Here’s a look at how a few of today’s most iconic brands embraced change and disrupted their markets to stay relevant and move ahead:
Inventing a game-changing product or service
The smartphone. The light bulb. Many of the things we take for granted were originally groundbreaking (read: life-altering) inventions. Netflix unearthed an entirely new way to watch movies when it introduced its mail-to-home DVD service in 1997. And the company continued to innovate and evolve despite the success of its original format. In 2007, it began offering movie streaming and in 2013, it introduced original programming. Today, Netflix has more subscribers than the two largest U.S. cable companies combined.
Taking a leap — by scaling back
Sometimes you may have to take a step back and evaluate what’s working — and what’s not. Instagram did just that. The company was originally called Burbn, an app that let users “check in” at particular locations, earn points for hanging out with friends and post photos. The creators felt the app might be too cluttered and started analyzing how people were using it. They realized users weren’t using the check-in feature, but were sharing lots and lots of photos. The company scaled back the features considerably to just photography and photo-sharing — focusing on making it super simple to post photos from smartphones online. The app was renamed Instagram and has become the most popular photo app on smartphones today.
Upending an industry
E-commerce has evolved and spawned a new kind of business in recent years: Online companies that send subscribers products by mail and let them return for free whatever they don’t want to buy. Among the innovators of this trend was Warby Parker, the eye glasses company that sends customers five frames to try on. After a five-day decision period, customers send them back with a prepaid return label. Warby Parker not only made shopping for glasses more fun and easy, but they also made it cheap: By cutting out the middleman they’re able to sell their glasses for less than $100 a pair, far less than what people would typically spend before they started.
What is your company doing to embrace change and think ahead? There’s no better time to think about it than now.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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