Updated: Aug 30, 2020
In a free-market economy, the status quo is definitely not good enough. Those who choose not to make continuous improvements have a long history of being left behind in the proverbial dust. Clearly, the rewards for risk taking are far greater than the safe harbor of mediocrity.
Giants Who Refused to Change
Sears is an example of a retail giant who lost touch with their customer. In the face of brutal competition from Walmart, Costco, and Amazon, the place "where America shops," is now near extinction. The downfall of Blockbuster is well documented. Resistance to change strategies and ignoring customer frustrations with late fees accelerated their demise.
Technological shifts have a reliable record of dismantling the giants. Increasing bandwidth from dial-up to broadband plus unlimited network access forced a significant change in AOL's business model. Strategic business leaders must continue to anticipate change.
Gordon Moore in 1970 predicted that computer processing power would double about every two years. Moore's belief became the foundation for Intel's successful business model of planned obsolescence.
Built-in obsolescence by design is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so that it becomes obsolete after a certain period of time.
Rewards for Risk Takers is Relevancy
The ultimate reward for risk taking is relevancy. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon made a big bet as he observed the growth of the Internet. His long-tail strategy ultimately paid off crushing competitors like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Bezos did not stop with just selling books. He discovered that the same distribution model could be extended to other types of merchandise and even groceries.
Neglecting your customer and honoring the status quo is a huge mistake, which surely will lead to irrelevancy and obsolescence.