His first book, Blindsided! is a #1 international bestseller, having hit the top spot on the Financial Times of London’s European Edition of Best Business Books. It has been published in 80 countries and has been named one of the best business books of the year by a number of organizations. Soundview Executive Summaries selected it as one of the best business books and send a summary to 80,000 executives worldwide.
Blindsided! examines why companies and industries are being blindsided, for example how Polaroid went bankrupt and Kodak was shaken by the rapid rise of digital photography or the music industry by digitized music downloading.
The book teaches business people how to identify early warning signs, how to put in place systems to prevent your organization from being blindsided and even how, once you have protected your organization, you can blindside your competition.
Praise for Blindsided:
“In the fast-paced global business environment, the possibility of being blindsided by a competitor or new market entrant is very real, even for businesses that appear most secure. Jim Harris offers real-life examples that will cause the reader to stop, think and question whether he or she is doing everything in his or her power to avoid being blindsided. A must-read for all senior executives.”
President & CEO, Factiva
A Dow Jones & Reuters Company
“Jim’s session was one of the most highly rated and I am certain that we will work with him in the future. What was particularly noteworthy was the accessibility and relevance of his material. Jim’s friendly, open style is critical in encouraging participants to take the material on board and shift their thinking.”
Centre for Management and Policy Studies
UK Cabinet Office
Here is a short excerpt of Blindsided!
Blindsided! Why are companies blindsided? Why is it occurring with increasing frequency? What are the consequences for organizations that are blindsided? Polaroid filed for bankruptcy protection on October 12, 2001. The icon of instant photography was blindsided by the rapid rise of digital photography. Kodak’s sales have slid over 20 percent from 1996 to 2001. Traditional photography companies with long, proud histories were blindsided. Microsoft was blindsided by the rapid rise of the Web. Netscape’s initial public offering (IPO) valued the company at $2 billion on its first day of trading. Goldman Sachs downgraded Microsoft’s stock, citing concerns that the software giant would become irrelevant in the Internet age. Netscape’s browser was being downloaded at a rate of one million copies a month. All of this happened before Bill Gates held his famous turnaround event in December 1995 announcing that Microsoft was serious about the Web. Finally, the United States was blindsided on September 11, 2001, when two commercial airliners were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, killing over 2,800 people. The effects were catastrophic causing billions of dollars damage. The resulting cancellations of travel plans pushed four airline carriers into bankruptcy, and many others to the brink. The event pushed the US economy into a deeper recession. Old, established companies are being blindsided. New economy companies are being blindsided. Financial markets are being blindsided. Whole industries and even societies are being blindsided. Why is this occurring? How can you identify early warning signs that your company or industry is about to be blindsided? What systems and structures can you put in place to prevent this happening to your organization? Finally, knowing all this, how can you take advantage of this information to blindside your competition? The key to avoid being blindsided is increasing the speed of recognizing and responding to change. This book will present a series of tools, techniques, and strategies to help decision makers in organizations identify trends earlier and respond faster.
The new tools presented in this book will help leaders build consensus within organizations where there is conflict, chaos, and confusion. We are experiencing more change than ever before: organizations are changing and many are suffering from initiative fatigue. Companies restructure and reorganize. Technology is changing at a dizzying rate. Individuals feel overwhelmed by their work. At times it seems impossible to keep up with the changes. Yet the rate of change is accelerating. The chart below shows the number of years it has taken 25 percent of the households in North America to adopt different technologies. Technology Number of years for 25070 of North American households to adopt Electricity 46 Car 44 Phone 35 TV 26 PC 15 Cellphone 13 Web <7 The Web is becoming the infrastructure of the new digital economy, accelerating the rate of change to Internet speed. Because the Web eliminates traditional barriers of time and distance, it accelerates the adoption of new technologies. The Web is both the product and the delivery medium. Here is how many years it took different technologies to reach 10 million customers: Technology Number of years for 10 million customers to adopt Radio 20.0 TV 10.0 Netscape 2.3 Hotmail 1.5^2 Napster 1.0^3 It took radio 20 years to reach 10 million customers, but Napster only 12 months. In a Time magazine article, Bert Roberts, chairman of US telco MCI, revealed that the 75 million phone numbers registered in 1995 equaled the total number of phone numbers distributed from 1876 to 1956. Internet access is growing even faster. The Web connected as many people in five years as the phone company did in 100, and Internet traffic is quadrupling every year. It’s not the strongest of the Because of the speed of change, companies will have to employ new strategies and tools to keep up with, let alone stay ahead of, the change in the business environment. Here’s a simple fact: 80 percent of the Change. The technology we will use in our day-to-day lives in just 10 years hasn’t been invented yet. Some people don’t I believe this. The Web was born with the release of Mosaic in 1993 or Netscape in 1995. E-commerce is expected to grow to $6.78 trillion by 2004!5 Job security for individuals and market share security for organizations is now based on learning, changing and accepting uncertainty.
The speed of change is accelerating – this means that companies will get blindsided faster than ever before and with increasing frequency. “The Internet runs on dog years,” the saying goes, and it’s true. A staggering 95 percent of Sun Microsystem’s revenue comes from products that were not commercially available just 18 months ago. Bill Gates in Business @ the Speed of Thought writes, “In three years every product we make will be obsolete. The only question is whether we’ll make them obsolete or if someone else will.” If knowledge and information have a half-life of between nine months and three years, we will have to employ new ways to accelerate learning. Learning is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Because of the dot.com bust and the fall of the NASDAQ composite index, some people dismiss the Internet boom as being all hype. There are, however, many companies that have experienced explosive growth and profit. For example, the following table shows the growth of online sales by Dell Computers: Dell online sales ($m/day) March 1997 1 February 1998 4 February 1999 14 25% January 2000 40 September 2001 50 50% Dell is an Internet company, because 50 percent of its sales come over the Web. In 2001, Dell was the only large computer company to make a profit. The Internet makes processes and interactions very efficient by stripping away activities that don’t add value. The amount of slack that exists in most industrial processes is staggering. Here’s a provocative question: Can a company appear healthy and yet be dead? Think back to learning how to drive a car. When I was taught how to drive, I was told to keep 10 feet of distance from the car in front for every 10 miles per hour of speed. So at 60 m.p.h. we’re supposed to keep 60 feet behind the car in front. Imagine a driver on the highway at 60 m.p.h. Suddenly a fog descends on him so he can only see 10 feet in front. If you were to measure the vital signs of both the driver and car at that point, you’d find both were healthy. But I argue that in reality, the driver is dead because sooner or later he will come to a bend in the road, an oncoming car, a stopped vehicle, or a cliff and won’t be able to respond in time. Driving at high speeds in fog is a metaphor for organizations today. Companies used to have five and ten-year strategic plans, stable industries, and predictable customers. Today, however, whole industries are being turned completely upside down in two years. Seemingly healthy companies that can’t recognize and respond quickly to change may be dead but not know it yet. If you are driving at 60 m.p.h. with only 10 feet of visibility, there are two things you can do: one is to slow down to 10 m.p.h. But can we slow down in our organizations today? No. We are being exhorted to go faster and faster. The other thing you can do is increase your response time sixfold. Increased speed requires decreased response time. How can individuals and organizations recognize change sooner, understand it better and predict its impact more accurately? Radar is a powerful metaphor for an early recognition system. The farther out the radar can see, the earlier the warning. However, the value of early warning is not great if you can’t tell the difference between a flock of geese and a fighter jet. In other words, how accurately you “see” and evaluate the threat is just as important as how early you perceive it.
Learn more about Jim Harris!
Jim is the disruptive innovation speaker with great insights on market flash points and what causes them to emerge.