When MTV launched back in 1981, the first music video aired was aptly named “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. The song, and the concept, made history as a new format of musical entertainment that rose to prominence.
The underlying message is one of transformation. Technology advances, global market expansion, ubiquitous access to information and geopolitical trends have shaken up nearly every industry. If you haven’t yet experienced this in your own trade, disruption is probably lurking just around the corner. Hurricane-strength winds of change that make room for the new by blasting out the old.
Knowing this to be true, it makes me wonder why more than 80% of R&D investments by big businesses are directed at incremental change in existing models rather than forging new ones. All the while, fat-cat executives scratch their heads with bewilderment when fresh start-ups emerge to redefine the rules through disruptive innovation.
If your organization, career, or community is the proverbial “radio star,” it’s time to focus on what’s possible and where things are heading, rather than diverting valuable energy to protecting what was. The next, next thing is coming. The question is: Will you drive that change or be driven by it? Will you disrupt or be disrupted?
As you contemplate reinvention, there are many opportunities for creative expression. If your product or service can’t be changed, try taking a look at how the work gets done. Operational innovation can drive geometric growth. Another starting point can be your corporate culture. An empowered team will outperform a tightly controlled and restricted group every time. What about retooling your brand, distribution channel, or market segments? The best leaders view reinvention as a continuous process, not a once-a-decade chore. They systematically attack each area of their business, looking to render previous practices irrelevant.
Netflix killed Blockbuster. Amazon killed Borders Books. Wikipedia killed Britannica. The deadly forces of innovation are just heating up, and it’s up to all of us to stay ahead of the curve.
Don’t wait for video to kill the radio star in your industry. Instead, strike first.