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Is it the end of (your) business?

Digital Darwinism"In an era of Digital Darwinism, no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed." -- Brian Solis

Blockbuster, Circuit City, Borders, Pontiac, CompUSA. Where are they today?

Brian Solis argues that they fell victim to the forces of natural selection, or "digital Darwinism," in his latest post, video, and book, The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution.(Photo by Brian Solis).

What I found so compelling about his message is that it reinforced patterns and trends that I see emerging through the fog of the Great Recession of 2008 (and 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 20??) -- that maybe this recession is not just about the fallout of the housing bubble, and Bernie Madoff. Maybe it is not just about Wall Street greed.

Maybe we are going through an inflection point?

In the Forbes cover story from September 2011, "Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution: Why Employees and Customers Will Be Calling the Shots," business guru and Professor Gary Hamel is quoted as saying, "Accepting social power as inevitable ...the undelying principles on the web of natural hierarchy, transparency, collaboration and all the rest ... are going to have to invade management." 

FastCompany editor Robert Safian opens the February 2012 "Generation Flux" issue as follows: "In our hypernetworked, mobile, social, global world, the rules and plans of yesterday are increasingly under pressure; the enterprises and individuals that will thrive will be those willing to adapt and iterate, in a disciplined, unsentimental way."

We are facing a tsunami of forces that are rapidly changing the business environment. Globalization, demographics, and technology are combining and magnifiying the size, scale, and scope of changes facing businesses today. This is an inflection point that Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Corporation, used to talk about in the 1990s: 

"It's the point in the life of a business or industry when its fundamentals are about to change. The change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end. They build up force so insidiously that you may have a hard time putting your finger on what has changed, but you know something has. It's that time when something is changing in a big way, when something is different ... that the signals of change only become clear in retrospect."

Still not convinced? Watch Brian's clip.

The closing lines in the video say it all:

"Many follow, but very few lead. Many compete to survive, but few compete for relevance. Do we listen to our customers? Do we truly understand them? Do we create experiences or do we simply react?

"The future of business comes down to one word: Change.

"This is a new era that redefines everything, an era of empowered consumers and employees. Will we fall to natural selection or will we rise to lead the revolution?

"This is our time to make business relevant, because people, after all, are everything."

Think of Brian's book, The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution as a field guide to this new chaotic world, an antidote to natural selection. 

Is it the end of business as we know it? What will you do to escape the forces of "digital Darwinism"?

Come join us in the r(evolution) at our Innovation Summit on June 27 in Baltimore.

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