As rightly Adam Hartung wrote: “We are taught, trained and indoctrinated to go along and get along, to not disrupt. In fact we’re constantly told to seek harmony”, though we live in a dynamic, continually changing world. Challenging status-quo is something leaders consistently emphasize on. Change is live, and as said; if you stop changing; you die.
What’s important in Hartung article is not only the action of disruption and the status quo challenge, it is the perseverance and patience such change and bold moves require. Such disruption at Sun, or Honda, the two cases Hartung articulated requires taking long breathe and hold it for years, for fruitful results to unveil. It requires courage and momentum, it requires sacrifice and pain, it requires energy and energizers. How many leaders and companies do you think will have such mysterious blend! How many supportive board executives are there!… Eventually, it narrows down to instilling a leadership, or say, disruptive culture at first place, so such bold moves and actions are welcome and entertained.
Here is snapshot from Hartung article, while you can visit Forbes to get it in full.
“From the day we start kindergarten we fear the teacher’s call to our parents saying, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I’m sorry to tell you that Mary has been disruptive in class.” We are taught, trained and indoctrinated to go along and get along, to not disrupt. In fact we’re constantly told to seek harmony. But in business that can destroy your entire value.
Sun Microsystems ( JAVA – news – people ) was a very successful company that sold computer workstations and servers. It had many people developing software, but less than 5% of that software was sold in any way other than installed in a Sun hardware box. In the mid-1990s Sun’s engineers developed Java, a powerful new language that was destined to rapidly increase use of the Internet. The problem for Sun was how to sell Java. Sun was a hardware company.
As the executives at Sun considered the problem, they pointed out that Sun had a great hardware business. Selling software would disrupt their product line development, their distribution channels and possibly their pricing schemes. The marketers, hearing the direction the execs were taking, quickly and quietly fell in line. Although the revenue potential was great and the product was far superior to a comparable one being released by Microsoft ( MSFT – news – people ), nobody spoke up to say that Sun should disrupt its business model and get into software sales.
Within weeks the decision was made to simply give Java away. Rather than change what Sun did and how the company did it, the rationalization was that Java would make more people use the Internet, and that would lead to more box sales. Sun’s business would remain unaltered, and the new product would simply be free.
Sun’s value fell from a peak of more than $200 billion a decade ago to about $5 billion in 2009, as the company became largely irrelevant. In early 2010 Sun disappeared, acquired by the software giant Oracle, which is spinning off its hardware business and only keeping its operating system and other software products. In the end, Sun was worth only what software it had left–which didn’t include Java. It’s too bad for investors that nobody was able to disrupt Sun, perhaps pushing the company into the software business 10 or 15 years earlier and before 95% of its value disappeared.”