Grovelands’ co-founder, David Leen, shares his thoughts on why businesses need to change and evolve in order to thrive.
They say you should never start anything with an apology, so I wouldn’t but for the fact that I am starting my new blog on a musical theme for the second time running. So apologies, but here goes; I think the greatest innovator in music is of course David Bowie who evolved from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to the Thin White Duke, and startled everyone last year by releasing a great album after a decade of inactivity and picked up a Mercury Award to boot. So a career that has spanned nearly 50 years has never stopped developing, surprising, and c-c-c-changing.
I tweeted last week about how Uber were challenging the Insurance market with a new business model, struggling to connect to a traditional one, or more likely the other way around. The news recently that the French Government has outlawed Uber from the Paris streets on the back of protests from taxi drivers will be, I suspect, be a small hiccup for the behemoth Uber. You can’t stop progress.
If you look at a bit of a social media continuum, great ideas of their time that failed to develop and adapt;
- Friends Reunited was the hottest site for everyone, it sold out to ITV for £175m who sold it on just four years later for a paltry £25m
- MySpace the website that gave us Lily Allen, was unable to develop beyond a niche site and you hear about it rarely if at all these days
- Friendstar – people tell me it should have become Facebook, maybe, but it didn’t
- Apple Ping and Google + are ideas by people who should know this market well, but these products didn’t develop, grab the attention and have now been largely side-lined
I often walk past a Cath Kidston shop and think that’s what Laura Ashley could have grown up into, Woolworths could have become the 99p shop, or MFI could have been IKEA, but they didn’t or haven’t.
I worked for a firm for a few years where the mantra was “If it ain’t broke…” but of course the world moves on and if you don’t challenge yourself and your own business then you sow the seeds of decline and it creeps up on you, it never happens overnight.
When we set up Grovelands, we wanted to constantly evolve, and early on we accepted we would make lots of mistakes. We have, lots, but whilst we get things wrong, we have done a few things right by constantly challenging ourselves and not accepting the norm, I suspect that’s what keeps us in business. It’s far from perfect.
So be like David Bowie and not like Norman Greenbaum. Who? Exactly!
– David Leen