The Fall of RIM: A Failure of Leadership, Not Innovation

According to Bill Fisher, the decline of telephony innovator RIM (creator of the once-popular Blackberry) wasn’t suddenly victimized by market forces or an unseen competitor that “Amazoned” it. Rather, it was a victim of its own sluggish leadership and inability to make decisions in the face of aggressive, faster-moving smartphone rivals. In short, like many companies in numerous industries before it, RIM became a victim of its own past success.

Our past success, and a desire to enjoy the associated rewards to the full, lead many firms into denial and sluggishness in the face of needing to adjust to a potential disruptive offering from somewhere else; particularly if we don’t take that “somewhere else” very seriously.

Another culprit that makes what Fischer calls “slooowprise” so deadly is leadership overconfidence, or hubris; the belief that we know what we’re doing, despite everyone else starting to do something different, can be a killer.

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