Never Adapting Your Methods

Fixed Itinerary

Scroll to Explore

Historical Case

Julius Caesar

Why Did Caesar Need to Attack Britain Twice?

Julius Caesar conquered most of Gaul with well-honed and successful military tactics: his highly equipped army waged war at unexpected times, such as during harvest and even in winter. However, when Caesar moved his campaign from Gaul to Britain in 55 BC and applied the very same tactics, his first landing failed because he had overstretched his supply lines. Only after learning from this failure and adapting his approach in the following year was he able to establish Roman rule over Britain, which lasted for 450 years.

“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.”

— Thomas Mann

Business Case

Fixed on the Moment: Kodak and Digital Photography

Eastman Kodak held a dominant position in the photographic-film business during most of the 20th century. Given its 89 percent market share in the U.S. in 1976 and cutting-edge R&D, the company apparently saw little reason to adjust its strategy. In 1975, a Kodak engineer even built the first prototypes of the digital camera. However, the innovation did not sink in at Kodak and the company focused on selling traditional film and lab equipment. By the end of the 1990s, as digital cameras built into cell phones hit the market, Kodak began to struggle; in 2012, it filed for bankruptcy. (It emerged from bankruptcy in 2013.)

The Exploration Rate Must Be Tuned to the Business Environment

Sirens

Warning Signs to Heed

  • Fixed resource allocations for exploratory tasks (such as R&D being set at a fixed percentage of sales) in the face of a changing environment
  • Long periods without noteworthy innovations, resulting in low new-product sales as a percentage of total sales
  • Business units, reporting structure, KPIs, and incentives built to support past or current achievements 

Lighthouses

Beacons to Navigate By

  • Fostering ambidexterity by balancing exploitation of profitable current businesses with the search for new ones
  • Support for a culture of experimentation, including through the creation of a more autonomous innovation unit
  • Scans for, and learning from, alternative business models, including those embodied in maverick companies