Bye-bye, Borders!

Bye-bye, Borders!

Image by brewbooks via Flickr

New Pathways

Cover via Amazon

This morning I was reading about Borders Bookstore on  They are closing the book on Borders.  Their remaining 399 stores are closing their doors.  What happened?  They couldn’t escape their own gravity.

Borders evolved to be the Wal-mart of bookstores.  They delivered an expansive inventory that small shops couldn’t compete with.  They had the same impact on mom and pop book shops that Wal-mart has had on small retailers.  The small shops died. The small shops couldn’t compete on price or breadth of selection.

The world changed abruptly in the last 15 years.  Especially in the area of media and information.   New information pathways emerged.  New mediums met the new pathways.  We discovered web browsers, smart phones, tablets and eReaders.  Borders ignored the new pathway.   They didn’t adapt.  They doubled-down on inventory.  They outsourced their online services to Amazon – The farmer let the fox in the hen house.  Borders died.  They couldn’t compete on price or breadth of selection.

The gravity of our organizations influences us.  The gravitational pull can keep us from adapting to what’s going on in the universe around us.   Borders couldn’t escape it’s own gravity.   It’s going the way of the dinosaur.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical for businesses, organizations, countries and individuals to be able to escape the pull that comes from the mass from their past.

The economic universe is changing.  I used to go to Borders, find books and buy them on Amazon.  There’s a parallel.  Businesses are looking at the work that is being done in their shops, letting go employees, and buying the labor from India.

The economic universe is going through a phase of disintegration.  As it disintegrates, business’ bodies become smaller.  The gravitation pull of company loyalty to employee diminishes.  Employees pull toward the company weakens also.

We can no longer expect a company to suck us into their gravitational field and keep us there until we die.  We need to deliver something that they can’t get in India (or Brazil, Singapore, Mexico, etc.).  It’s nothing to get mad at.  It just is.  Just like gravity.

The way to navigate the disintegrating economic universe  is to increase our value.  This is how we increase our mass as an individual.  We develop the ability to adapt quickly.  We learn how to deliver results consistently.  We accept that we live in a world that pays for outcomes, not how the outcome is achieved.

If a machine can do what you do, your gravity is shrinking.  If someone in another country can do what you do, you’re shrinking.  If you refuse to change with the program that’s changed 14 times in the last 18 months, your gravity is shrinking.

Outsourcing is easier than ever.  So is the ability to work and deliver value. It’s easier than ever to claim autonomy in business.  All you have to do is deliver results that can’t be done by someone 100, 1,000 or 10,000 miles away.

Fail to deliver unique results and you’ll be off to the slaughter.  Deliver unique results and you’ll be able to roam free (and well-paid).

Bye-bye, borders!

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