Monday, October 5, 2009

Growth: the "Killer" App, Why Is It the Titans of Business Never Get It?

Eric Schonfeld of TechCrunch did a book review of "Googled: Schmidt Wants To Build A '$100 Billion Media Company.'" My question is: Why do business leaders always feel bigger is better?

Google has been one of the coolest companies to come along in decades, but trying to become a multi-media giant will ruin everything that makes Google, well...Google.

Growth doesn't mean just doing a lot more of what a company has been doing. Growth requires expanding and moving into other areas; areas where management may not have as much expertise.

Disney was once a really cool company, but as it continued to grow it was forced to focus more on growth and less on creativity. In the 1990s it tried to generate full-length animated feature films with a cookie cutter approach--the tried and true fairytale with three new "blockbuster" songs--and a new film every year. But the creativity was gone. They had to acquire Pixar to get animated features that were even close to original and creative. Slowly, creativity is being wrung out of Pixar too. Now they have consumed Marvel and will start the process of killing it.

Microsoft was once a fairly cool company with software that was--if not really cool and easy to use--at least better than other available options. But with its size, aggressive behavior, and software programs that are becoming more cumbersome to use, many of its customers feel a love-hate relationship with the company. As better software applications that meet specific needs come on-line people continue to use them.

To my mind, these are two companies that, at one point, had it together with bright futures. Growing to a position of dominance has made them targets for other smaller and creative companies who find lucrative niches. Google has been one of the companies with lucrative niches, but I fear is losing its way in the forest of business plans and growth.

Trying to be everything to everybody has never been a viable business model. It has more to do with the ego of company leaders than with providing really creative and useful products or services to your customers.

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