Understanding the Dinosaur Syndrome

Here in NZ we are back to level one, back to normal, or as near normal as possible when a pandemic is still raging elsewhere in the world. Which leads me to ask you a favour:


We do things the way we do them because they work, until the day a pandemic hits or someone else does it quicker and cheaper or technology makes what we do obsolete. In my very first book ‘Shift Your But’ (1999) I quoted Tom Peters who said ‘The companies profiled in ‘In Search of Excellence’ were lauded for being close to the customer yet 14 of the 43 companies got whamoed. It isn’t that companies like Wang, Levi Strauss, Atari, Avon, Tupperware, Kodak and K-Mart weren’t listening, it’s that they weren’t listening enough.’ Some of those companies resurrected themselves, some didn’t.

Thinking your business can go back to exactly how it was before the pandemic hit could sound the death knell for you. Even businesses that have been around for years, can and do go belly up:

Toys R Us was launched in 1948 and controlled one quarter of the toy market selling 18,000 different toys in 1000+ stores. However, the changing taste in toys, stores that had become dated and the rise of e-commerce ended their reign.

Payless was once the largest foot-wear chain in the USA and in the mid 1990’s was selling 250 million pairs of shoes per year. They were wiped out by Target and Walmart

9000 Blockbuster stores were wiped out because of poor leadership and competition from Netflix.

Borders book-stores are now history. They had locations in airports and shopping plazas. They failed to create an online presence and didn’t invest in creating an e-reader as per the Barnes and Noble Nook or the Amazon Kindle, so they perished.

NB: Target Australia is itself falling into decay – in Australia they are currently closing 167 stores or converting them into K-Marts.

In an article by Ben Peterson writing for Inc.com suggested that there are ‘3 signs YOUR BUSINESS IS IN DANGER OF BECOMING A DINOSAUR!

Dinosaurs Get Stuck: Success can be a dangerous thing, especially if you decide that your current strategy will work forever. In today’s world, the terrain can change in the space of a single innovation, and innovations are coming faster and faster.

Dinosaurs are Cold-blooded. Apparently when Jeff Bezos acquires a company, he ponders whether the leader is a missionary or a mercenary. According to him, missionaries build products because they love the customer – love the product and love the service while the mercenary is building the product or service so they can flip the business and make money. He wants his leaders to be missionaries; people who have ties to the company and are passionate about the company’s future so they will work to ensure the company HAS a future.

Dinosaurs are Unchanging: In both nature and the corporate world, success depends on changing at the right time and in the right way. When you take your company in the right direction, hire and mould dedicated employees, and develop policies that give your company enough space to grow, you’re creating an organization that can stay ahead of history.’

A FEW QUESTIONS to test whether your business suffers from the Dinosaur Syndrome:

When did you last work on a new product or service?
When did you last ask your customers for feedback and listen to it?
When did you last ask your employees for ideas for improvement and use them?
When was the last time you ever offered anything new?
Do you rely on just ONE product or service?

RED ALERT. I recently upgraded by computer and couldn’t get my printer to work. The lovely man who was setting everything up for me suggested it was because I used ‘refilled’ ink cartridges (from Cartridge World – 35 franchises). My new computer system was set up to detect refills and simply wouldn’t function without brand new cartridges. I hope Cartridge World have a strategy for their franchise system otherwise they too will go the way of the companies above.

My final thought:“When you are finished changing, you are finished.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Ann Andrews CSP
Speaker, author, profiler, Life Member NSANZ

Ann is the author of:
Lessons in leadership: 50 ways to avoid falling into the ‘Trump’ trap
Leaders Behaving Badly: What happens when ordinary people show up, stand up and speak up
My Dear Franchisees
Women Behaving Courageously: How gutsy women, young and old, are transforming the world – Release date 4th August 2020

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