A few weeks ago, I read an HBR post about “Why Innovators Should Study the Rise and Fall of the Venetian Empire“.
The post discussed how from 697 to 1797 AD, Venice’s technological acumen, geographic position, and unconventionality combined to allow the Most Serene Republic to flourish. But Venice’s 1000 year success story was quickly ended because the Venetians were focused more on exploitation (of existing paths to success) than exploration (of new paths to success).
When rapid changes in technology began to shape the world, Venice quickly found itself stuck the past. Venice’s focus on galley ships made sense when the Mediterranean was the most important trading waterway. But, the invention of ships that could survive at sea for months, in addition to the expansion of global trade to encompass the seven seas, weakened Venice’s competitive advantage.
This reminded me of how companies like IBM are now be playing catch up to companies like Apple and Microsoft that seemingly came out of nowhere. (And Apple and Microsoft are trying to keep up with companies like FaceBook and Snap.)
Technology and globalization are making the concept of constant innovation increasingly important. According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University, the average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today.
So remember, if you rest comfortably in your success there is someone else working hard to change our world and that will change your business.
I want to know, how are you innovating? Message me or share in the comments!
Read the full Harvard Business Review post here: “Why Innovators Should Study the Rise and Fall of the Venetian Empire”
Ben Kotch is a managing director and investment committee member at Acquis Capital, LLC, a private investment firm that specializes in acquisitions. He has extensive experience with both private and public companies. Ben graduated with an economics degree from Bentley University where he concentrated in entrepreneurship and law.
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