Learning from Singer

At one point, the Singer Corporation had more than 12,000 people working in a single plant. They were selling more than a million sewing machines a year and had hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. By any measure, it was one of the most important manufacturers in America. It was fun while it lasted.

Back then, it was easy to believe that Singer represented everything that was right with our economy, and that our future was intrinsically attached to the company's.

When as the last time you even thought about Singer (or a sewing machine for that matter)?

The cycles are far shorter now than they were during the century that Singer was a shining light for corporate success. More now than ever, success today is no guarantee of success tomorrow.

Sometimes we spend more time than we should defending the old thing, instead of working to take advantage of the new thing. I bet you can list a dozen "critical" industries that will be as relevant to life in 2020 as Singer is to our world today.

The key difference is that back then, managers and shareholders could stall and fumble and wait out the transition until after they retired. Now, it's almost an annual event. Hiding isn't working, and neither is whining. The best marketing strategy is to destroy your industry before your competition does.