An Innovation Lesson From the Nineties
The nineties was the decade of Super Nintendo, Michael Jordan, Nirvana, Ninja Turtles, Bill Clinton, Altavista, and AOL, but not CompuServe. CompuServe, the tech juggernaut of the 80’s had already become a memory of something that once was. How did it happen? They took their foot off the accelerator.
In an illuminating article in GeekWire entitled “The lesson of CompuServe: Never take your foot off the innovation accelerator,” Jeff Wilkins, CompuServe CEO during the glory days, recounts the sad story.
When AOL was gaining momentum in the nineties, Wilkins felt compelled to tell the current Compuserve CEO, “You guys have got the high road right now. You can change the rules of the game every 90 days.” The reply was, “We just made $100 million, they are not going to be a threat to us.”
CompuServe took their foot off the accelerator. At the beginning, entrepreneurial businesses know that they must be innovative, scrappy, and agile. But the race never ends, even with market leadership. CompuServe became a sober premonition of Nokia and RIM.
"Pedal to the metal" is the new normal. Slow and steady does not win the race.
Never take your foot off the accelerator!