Complacency Kills

I find it amazing how many businesses use their past successes as justification to not change. As if past success reliably predicts future success.  As if competitive landscapes are static. As if the economic environment is stable.

Everyone repeat after me: “What made us successful in the past could kill us in the future.” Complacency kills. There is no guarantee of success, no entitlement. How many examples do we need? Aloha Airlines. Bombay Company. Borders. Crabtree & Evelyn. Mervyns. Nortel. Ritz Cameras. Sharper Image. Ultimate Electronics. Wachovia. And that’s just the past few years.

(See: for a historical listing.)

Organizations that continually thrive maintain a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo. A healthy paranoia about their prospects. They ask, “what if”, trying to anticipate the worst. They question their assumptions about themselves, their customers and their competitors.

Sure, it’s great to recognize and celebrate your successes. Just don’t stay too late at the party.

Your thoughts?


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