The Global Companies that Failed to Adapt to Change

Adapted from “Soft Leadership: An Innovative Leadership Style to Resolve Conflicts Amicably through Soft Skills and Negotiation Skills to Achieve Global Stability, Peace and Prosperity” by Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin

Eastman Kodak, a leader for many years, filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Blockbuster Video became defunct in 2013. Similarly, Bordersone of the largest book retailers in the U.S.went out of business in 2011. Why did these companies, which once had great brands, ultimately fail? It is because they failed to adapt to change. Additionally, they failed to unlearn and relearn. Let’s address the importance of change in this regard.

Although everyone is aware that the only thing constant in the world is change, people resist change due to various reasons, including fear of failure, fear of criticism, and fear of the unknown. They often think the devil they know is better than an unknown angel. They settle for the status quo and end up going extinct. Or they fail to change with the changing times and technologies and suffer the same fate.

Maintaining a Broad Mindset

In her book, “Leadership and Mindful Behavior: Action, Wakefulness, and Business,” Joan Marques notes there are many people and companies who once performed at the top of their line because they were zestful and adventurous but became complacent. Just think of:

  • Blockbuster, which was crushed by Netflix
  • Dell, which was overridden by mobile devices
  • Kodak, which lost track of the digital era
  • Microsoft, which fell asleep when Web TV, e-books, smartphones, and tablets took over
  • Motorola, which got outmaneuvered by smartphones
  • Sears, which lost immense market share to aggressive discount stores such as Walmart and Target
  • Sony, which focused on hardware in a time when software took the upper hand, leaving space for Samsung, Apple, and others to run away with its market
  • Yahoo, which fell asleep when Google was inventing and making numerous smart moves

Some realized their mistake and reinvented themselves once they experienced the drawbacks of their myopia. Others failed to regain a broad mindset to avoid falling prey to sleepwalking again. You have to be awake to maintain a broad mindset.

A Blueprint to Embrace Change Effectively

“Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it—but sail we must, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

Leaders must adopt tools and techniques to adapt to change. Here is a blueprint to embrace change effectively:

  • Keep the vision right and straight, and articulate it effectively.
  • Create organizational culture conducive to bring about change.
  • Communicate clearly about the need to change.
  • Enlighten people about the implications of the status quo.
  • Show them benefits once the change is implemented.
  • Coordinate all stakeholders effectively.
  • Remove the roadblocks by allaying their apprehensions.
  • Show them small gains to ensure that entire change takes place smoothly without any resistance.

Peter Drucker wrote in “Executive Excellence,” “We can already see the future taking shape. But I believe the future will turn in unexpected ways. The greatest changes are still ahead of us. The society of 2030 will be very different from today’s society and bear little resemblance to that predicted by today’s futurists. The next society is close enough for action to be considered in five areas. [The fourth area is] change agents. To survive and succeed, organizations will have to become change agents. The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it.”

Change and Competition Are Constant

The only thing constant in the corporate world is change and competition. Every change is made for a reason. Every change is decided upon because the positives of the change outweigh the negatives. Nobody can survive without change. Change requires a new mindset, tool set, and skill set. Thus, everyone must change with the changing scenario to grow personally, professionally, and socially.

Change is inevitable. Change is the mantra for survival and success. The business scenario is changing rapidly across the world, and organizations must keep pace with the same, and reinvent and evolve accordingly to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.

The river that goes to the sea undergoes several changes, including twists and turns during its journey. It flows slow and fast as per the situation. So is the case of human lives and organizations. Throughout human life, an individual undergoes several challenges such as peaks and valleys, smooth and rough terrain. The only successful individuals are the ones who adapt and mold themselves to the changing environment.

Change can be stressful, painful, and helpful. It all depends on how you view the change. If you accept change with optimism, it can be helpful. If you view change with cynicism, it will be painful and stressful. Hence, welcome change wholeheartedly to ensure survival and achieve success in all walks of your life.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch once remarked, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Thus, accept change before the change is thrust on you. If people don’t perform, they perish. If companies don’t innovate, they become obsolete. If we were not changed, we would have remained in the Stone Age.

To conclude, cultivate a flexible mindset to embrace change effectively to ensure organizational excellence and effectiveness. Benjamin Disraeli rightly said, “Change is inevitable in a progressive society. Change is constant.”

Adapted from “Soft Leadership: An Innovative Leadership Style to Resolve Conflicts Amicably through Soft Skills and Negotiation Skills to Achieve Global Stability, Peace and Prosperity” by Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

 Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an international leadership guru with 37 years of experience and the author of more than 40 books, including the award-winning “21 Success Sutras for CEOs” ( He is a C-suite advisor and keynote speaker. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. His vision is to build 1 million students as global leaders by 2030 ( Prof. Rao advocates gender equality globally (#HeForShe). He was honored as an upcoming international leadership guru by Global Gurus ( He serves as an advisor and judge for several international organizations, including Global Leadership Awards in Malaysia and Middle East Business Leaders Summits & Awards in Dubai. He coined an innovative teaching tool―Meka’s Method; leadership training tool―11E Leadership Grid; and leadership learning tool―Soft Leadership Grid. Most of his work is available free of charge on his four blogs, including He can be reached at: