No matter what we create, something newer, better, cheaper or smarter will replace it.
The downfall of any company begins the moment its leaders fall more in love with something they own rather than the reason why they created it.
I’ve made this mistake, and maybe you have too. You hold on too long; insist on your way too ardently; fail to bend to the reality sitting right in front of you.
This is something about which I’ve been thinking as we approach the end of the year.
Maybe it’s a logo, piece of technology, a service or even an entire business model. When you fall too much in love with things instead of what they stand for you fail to recognize when they no longer serve their original purpose.
Steve Jobs accepted this truth more than anyone. He didn’t venerate his creations; he revered the reasons why they came into existence in the first place. The desire to make computing pleasurable for everyone made all the follow-on decisions about improving or refining parts, blowing up operating systems or retiring products altogether easy.
Under Jobs’ leadership and even today, everything Apple creates is a rough draft. A work in progress. A stepping stone to the next thing.
Many of today’s creators and entrepreneurs do this.
Prototyping next generation products has long been a staple of the manufacturing world. Many brands continually experiment with materials and technologies that alter their products and services year after year.
Some things need to go away to make room for newer versions. It’s not a road to self destruction. Sure, you’ll lose products along the way. Perhaps even some customers. But you’ll gain others in their place and create sustainable affection for your brand.
As an avid cyclist, I’m always on the hunt for something new and different. I have become somewhat bored with the rank-and-file assembly line bike. In a world where I can customize just about anything, including my sneakers and guitars, I’m no longer satisfied with off-the-shelf, templated anything. Especially my bike.
Villy Customs understands that. By connecting the age-old desire to pedal around with the modern trend of personalizing our goods, Villy enables riders to be more than just customers by giving them a way to be creators and designers too.
Within 10 minutes, I designed this custom cruiser based on the 1000watt brand colors:
By not falling in love with their notion of what a bike should be, Villy is able to deliver on their essential purpose – to supply cyclists with a means of transportation that is an extension of themselves.
The Villy brand has exploded.
This formula repeats itself within all kinds of industries. Brands that love their purpose and customers more than they love their products or services continue to evolve and build reputations and adoration along the way.
As we close out 2014, I leave you with this vision:
Unhinge yourself from the things you’ve already created – the institutions, processes, products and services you have built. Those things may be valuable, but they should never be sacred. They are nothing more than piles of bricks, files, histories, slide decks, code, desks and parts that house something that is sacred – your purpose – for a certain period in time.
Fall madly in love with the reasons why all your things were created.
Those reasons will guide you down a road to excellence.
Have an amazing holiday season.