Ruthless: Competitors gobble up those who don’t adapt

What a difference ten years makes. In 1999, the list of top 25 global companies, as measured by market cap, included 13 tech companies. Nine of these, including such great names as Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Cisco, Intel, and Oracle are no longer on today’s list of top 25 companies, having been eclipsed by higher flyers like Google. A few have disappeared altogether. Today, tech companies make up just six of the top 25.

What can we glean from the companies that have fallen or been gobbled up? Let’s not blame consolidation; that’s an outcome, not a cause, especially for companies in the telecoms sector. As technology evolves and markets change, most of these market leaders have struggled to transform their business models. Some have been slow to innovate, expand into emerging markets, or evolve their leadership teams to match the competitive challenges (for example, Microsoft and Nokia). The biggest determinent of success over the long term is mindset: adaptability, creativity, organizational speed, and a company’s ability to shed its old skin under the dawn of a new day.
What about the next ten years? Look for the idealogues, the least flexible, to fall. These are the companies with the most invested in their own trappings, the most at stake, the proudest.
It’s much harder to predict the successes, those companies that will thrive through uncertain times and evolve aggressively. But I wager that more aspiring Asian companies emerge; they have proven to be adaptive and innovative.
The winners in the future will come to a contextual point of view about the external market, create a compelling business strategy and aggressively assess the capabilities required for success. They then routinely, aggressively, and ruthlessly assess their leaders to the competencies that matter most, those linked to the direction of their business, qualities like learning agility, creativity, and strategic agility. Facing the headwinds of change, their humility will allow them to change direction, allowing the winds to propel them forward.
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