As I write this one of Canada’s Tech darlings RIM is fighting for its life and tomorrow is launch day for the new BB10. It is fighting to stay relevant in a market space that changes the definition of relevancy every 6 months and with repeated delays in the BB10 launch several clients have tossed their loyalty to RIM out the window in favour of Apple or Google or Samsung. RIM had failed in a catastrophic way to stay relevant, reflected in their share price dropping from $147 to just over $6 last summer.
So how did they cease to be relevant? A complicated question for sure, but one element that played an extremely influential role was legacy leadership. Many times the founders of a company fail to evolve as the market space around them changes. They are constantly looking in the review mirror at past successes and believe the same formula will guide them forward to future glories.
The brand of a company is what sells, but it is the leadership of the company that makes the brand. Leadership needs to be actively envisioning the future, not only in a market space sense but in supplier relations, talent management, etc. Their task is to see what is coming on the horizon, see how the landscape is changing and create the strategy to be successful in that new environment.
This leadership requirement is about to fall on the doorstep of almost all the businesses in the area where I live as a huge megamall/entertainment facility/living village complex is being built. How local businesses  react to the changes in the competitive landscape, increased traffic flow, new visitor needs, changing real estate prices, etc will determine whether their businesses will be part of this new business environment reality.
So, if you are a business owner or manager, do yourself and your company a favour (if you don’t already do this:). Take some time away from the day to day and see what is happening in your business environment – market tastes, competition, business practices,etc. See what adaptations you may want to consider and start to plan for them. If big companies like Eaton’s, BlockBuster and Nortel can fail think how easy it would be for the rest of us.