Leading the Future: In It to Win It

Windows Phone 8

The Canadian firm Research In Motion (RIM) is largely responsible for the number of smartphones that are in service around the world. They began selling pagers in 1998.

At the time, businesses had no option but to have their mobile employees carry laptop computers everywhere . If they needed to review or create email, they had to find a place to plug the computer into a network.

It worked, but it wasn’t easy.

Finding Business Solutions

RIM sought a way to make this easier. In 2003, they introduced their first BlackBerry smartphone. This new technology allowed business users to receive their email right on their phones. It was a revolutionary new idea that left the other electronics companies scrambling to duplicate.

Even as time went on and other devices started becoming available, BlackBerry had a hold on the business market. But as time and technology marched on, RIM seemed to have missed opportunities to keep ahead in the market.

Leading the Competition

The recent success of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-platform smartphones began in the mass consumer market and has gradually made its way into BlackBerry’s business market. Now, RIM is struggling to maintain its slim market share as it is being pushed out by these more innovative options.

Short-term success is difficult to achieve. It takes a great deal of hard work and a certain amount of luck. RIM did a great job of seeing a need in the market and filling it.

Long-term success, however, is even more difficult to sustain. A different recipe is needed for this.

How the Mighty Fall

Organizations tend to peak and then find it difficult to maintain that success over time. (See this article by Jim Collins on “How the Mighty Fall” for a great explanation.) Yet there are certain organizations that seem to continuously be in the spotlight of success year after year.

It seems as though pieces of the puzzle are constantly moving, but these organizations are always the ones leading the way.

Apple released the iPod MP3 music player  in 2001. Digital music players had been on the market for some time, but Apple took them to another level. They had an incredibly simple user interface and very few buttons. They over-took the market leaders shortly after their launch.

When Apple saw what BlackBerry was doing with phones, they knew that they could take their iPod success into the world of smartphones.

They began the project in 2004 and released the first iPhone in 2007.  They created a smartphone that took the best of BlackBerry’s email and internet capabilities and added the music capabilities of the iPod with a built-in digital camera.

It took the smartphone to another level. Now, iPhones and Android phones are in the spotlight while RIM is struggling to stay alive in the market.

It’s difficult, especially in electronics, to stay ahead of the pack. Any time you are at the top, you will find it very difficult to stay there. However, there are organizations like Apple and Google that have been there continuously over a long period of time.

Next-Gen Technology

In addition to the steps that Apple and Google have taken to surpass existing technology and products on the market, longtime technology leader Microsoft is jumping ahead of the pack and breaking new ground in this market with an upcoming release of Windows Phone 8.

Rather than staying content in the tried-and-true space of desktop computing, Microsoft is exemplifying the  “in-it-to-win-it” mentality by creating a single platform in Windows 8 (scheduled release Fall 2012) that will run laptops computers, a new tablet computing device called “Surface,” and new smartphones.

This single platform idea for business users leapfrogs existing hardware/software offerings because of a seamless integration that will allow people to both consume content (like on iPhones and Android devices) but will add an easy and effective way to create content as well.


  • What’s the secret of long-term technology winners?
  • How can these organizations be at the top when there are thousands of others vying for a spot?
  • What do they do differently to convert short-term success into long-term viability?


They adopt the right characteristics that insure their success.

Leading the Future: 4 Characteristics

The organizations that continuously succeed over time have four main characteristics:

Great Leadership

Great organizations begin and end with great leadership. The people at the top have to be the driving force in success. You can’t expect continued success if the leadership team is a revolving door.

Continuity of leadership is essential. Those leaders have to keep driving forward.

Q: What does your leadership group look like?

Hunger to Win

Organizations that win over time aren’t ever satisfied with just a single win. It is their objective to win every single day. It’s important for them to push for their people to win all the small battles, because then the big ones will take care of themselves.

Q: What are you winning today?

Dissatisfaction with Status Quo

Death comes to those organizations that just keep things the way that they are. The world is constantly moving, and to try to stand still is to allow the world to pass you by. This appears to have been RIM’s problem with the BlackBerry. They were not innovative enough in a time of great innovation.

Q: Is your organization trying to just stand where it is?

Focus on Improvement

If the status quo is not satisfying, then your organization has to continue improving. Apple seems to come out with a new version of the iPhone once a year, and each new release focuses on making improvements to the design. Microsoft is making its next platform ubiquitous. Your organization must focus on continuous improvement to stay ahead of the competition.

Q: In what areas can you improve?

Timeless and True

These characteristics are true for small companies, large companies, and even sports teams. Focus on these four characteristics of a successful organization and you’ll be well on your way to staying ahead of the pack.

Success isn’t easy, but are you doing the right things to stay ahead? Is your organization properly looking into the future and adopting the characteristics of long-term market and leadership success? What can you do in your position to help your organization stay on top and keep the “in-it-to-win-it” attitude alive and strong? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Rich Bishop

Rich Bishop is President of Bishop Coaching & Consulting Group
He serves with hands-on approach to Development through Coaching & Training
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web

Image Sources: winsource.com


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