The Drip Method of Irrelevance

- Retired General Eric Ken Shinseki

In most decision-making sessions, as we pore over the spreadsheets, company analysts typically discuss discount rates that are being used, predict the right investment horizon, and scrutinize all the detailed assumptions. We dig into the operating expenses and all the capital outlays. We might run a conservative, base, and aggressive case to bracket the potential outcomes and get a better handle on the risk. While every once in a while somebody may bring up “opportunity cost,” I rarely have heard anyone bring up the cost of inaction.

Arguably, those costs may not have been so big in the last century. But in this age of rapid disruption, more often than not, those costs are huge. In fact, they can be the difference between staying in business and making a trip to the retail graveyard. RadioShack, Toys “R” Us, and literally hundreds of other retailers that have gone out of business failed to pull the trigger on all the action steps they could have done along the way, over many years, to stay relevant.

Along the way, somebody-or a group of somebodies-was either in denial, paralyzed by fear, vigorously defending the status quo, or only allowing a timid transformation. Perhaps a bit of all the above.

Change, particularly the kind that is demanded by the accelerating pace and profound impact of disruption, is incredibly hard. Failing to change, however, is ultimately far more difficult.

Few brands can afford the price of irrelevance. And it turns out the status quo is very expensive.

The above is an excerpt from Chapter 9 (“Defenders of the Status Quo”) of my forthcoming book Remarkable Retail: How to Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Digital Disruption, which was published by LifeTree Media on Tuesday, April 14th. You buy it here

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Keynote speaker & strategic advisor on retail innovation. Top 10 retail influencer. Senior Forbes contributor. Best selling author of “Remarkable Retail.”