In the 1990’s, when e-commerce arrived on the scene, someone thought it would be a good idea to allow you to buy a coffin online.
The funeral industry fought back — after all, they had margins and business models to protect.
Of course, that failed. Today, you can buy a coffin online. (Which begs the question — if you buy it advance, what do you do with it? Stick it in the living room for now and use it as a coffee table?)
Then came Napster, and with it, outright music theft through sharing. Yet at the same time, folks experimented with business models involving the sale or licensing of music via digital music files. The music industry fought against that — they essentially fought a war against the idea of digital media.
How did their battle against the future turn out? Not well — eventually Apple came along with iTunes and a business model that worked. It took a while, but the music companies eventually figured out they had to adapt and align to the future, rather than fight it.
History has a nasty tendency of repeating itself, and legacy companies keep making the same mistakes. So it is with GM and self-driving car technology today. It seems they would rather fight the future than be a full participant in it.
The company is busy battling back against the disruptors and upstarts, trying to suggest only established car companies should be able to innovate in the space:
“With states seizing the initiative on shaping the future of self-driving cars, General Motors is trying to persuade lawmakers across the country to approve rules that would benefit the automaker while potentially keeping its competitors off the road. ” New York Times, February 23, 2017
In other words GM is doing the same thing that the funeral and music industries did in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
How do you think this will end up?
Two key points come from this:
- GM deserves to fail with these efforts. You don’t innovate through legal action on innovation. Where’s the CEO on this? What type of message does this send to the organization on its innovation efforts? Is it so far behind in the race that it believes the only way it can win is by sending in the lawyers?
- the lesson for anyone else is this: disruption, the future and business model change happens. Deal with it through innovation and aligning yourself to the future, rather than trying to protect the status quo
there should be a lesson for anyone
The funny thing about the future is this: it happens, whether you like it or not. It’s better for you to participate in it rather than fighting it.