Sometimes, we can be blind to opportunities right in front of us.
Back in the 90s, I published a magazine for the motion picture division at Kodak. It was a great gig. I interviewed Hollywood film crews and met some movie stars. The money was serious. I sent them big bills every month and they paid them pronto. Bliss.
Around that time, directors of photography (DPs) were wondering if they should shoot their movies in a digital format. They thought it might be cheaper, easier and more versatile than film. It was my job to convince them that digital was not the future because at Kodak's corporate offices, digital denial was rampant. "Film is here to stay," they said.
Of course, we know what happened. When the digital photography boat sailed, Kodak couldn't shake its attachment to film. They sold digital cameras for a while, but their heart wasn't in it. In 1996, their revenues stood at $16 billion, with a profit of $2.5 billion in 1999. Today, Kodak is bankrupt. 41,000 people lost their jobs.
Compare Kodak to FujiFilm. They took a hard look at the future, considered their core competencies, and made big changes. They started a cosmetics company called Astalife. They made optical film for flat-screen TVs. They also invested in dozens of other companies. FujiFilm soared, while Kodak imploded.
Kodak failed because it had "opportunity blindness". By clinging desperately to its existing product—film—it couldn't see the dangers and opportunities presented by digital technology.
Opportunity blindness is rampant in our economy today. Most business people cling desperately to their existing products and services. They ignore the potential impact of new technology and new competition and simply hope that the demand for their products will one day return to previous high levels. This attachment to their existing products makes them blind to new ways they could create value and make more money.
To combat opportunity blindness, we recommend you use New Factory Thinking. It's the best way to open your eyes to the many possibilities you have to create new kinds of value and make more money.
It works like this: Begin by deciding who you want to help. Perhaps you want to help high school students or people with asthma. Then make it your intention to create a "value hub" around this kind of person. This means you're prepared to provide any kind of value to your customers, as long as it will help them. You're willing to look beyond your industry or your product/service category. You're also prepared to provide value from other companies, even your competitors.
This "value hub" philosophy is being used by many smart companies today: including Apple, Google, Amazon, and UBER. While each of these companies have their core products, they also provide a wide range of other value that goes beyond the normal parameters. They're always on the lookout for new things to sell their customers.
When you adopt this way of thinking, you suddenly see many opportunities previously hidden from view. You feel creatively and intellectually liberated. You feel free to do anything. Of course, it would be foolish to pursue every opportunity that comes to mind. But you have a much richer field of BIG Ideas to choose from.
This expansive, open-ended way of thinking sounds obvious, but it isn't. Two hundred years of the industrial revolution taught us to specialize in a particular product or service. If you made hammers, you stuck with hammers. You didn't think to sell screw drivers too. And if you did, you certainly didn't think to add music or groceries to your product line.
But the industrial revolution is over. We find ourselves in a much different kind of economy and marketplace. Companies that specialize in one product or service, or one industry, are being marginalized and even destroyed by new factories designed as value hubs.
So now is the time to take off the blinders and see the many opportunities you have to create value. You just have to be willing to think differently.
To learn more about new factory thinking, visit:
You can download and read the first section of my book: The New Factory Thinker: Re-Wiring Our Minds For Success In A Disrupted Marketplace.