By Berit Anderson


At some point, with enough pressure, every system will break.

When the barriers to innovation are weaker than the forces for change, one of two things happens: either the barriers collapse or the need for change drives consumers around the walls to find a new solution, building the beginnings of a new business or system.

Just ask Kodak, which scoffed at the idea of digital and then fell into film-based failure. Consumers went around Kodak's walls in favor of a product that allowed them to take more photos for fewer dollars.

Or consider Henry Ford, who ignored the need for cheaper vehicle financing to his own peril:

In 1921, the Ford Motor Company sold about 2/3 of all the cars built in the U.S. By 1926, this share had fallen to approximately 1/3. And in 1927, when Ford belatedly responded (at tremendous financial cost and internal strife) to changes in the market's tastes and competitive innovation by shutting down production temporarily to re-tool his factories and bring the Model A to the market, that percentage fell to about 15%.

This is not a new idea. In fact, it's so common that there's a popular meme for it: Innovate or die.

This year, more than ever, we will need to live by that tenet.


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