It seems to me that certain industries/organizations are facing the same issues over and over again, often trying to use band-aid cures as opposed to treating systemic problems at their roots. Here’s a quick rundown on 6 industries I believe are in need of overhauls:
Numerous reports have come out saying that Americans are falling behind in global rankings. Why does it matter? There’s a significant gap in skills that’s preventing open jobs from being filled even in this economy, and many argue that the federal government’s attempt at standardizing education isn’t helping. We’re throwing lots of money into the system with flat-lining or, for math and science, declining results. The US Department of Education reports that the average math score for 17-year-olds in 2008 was not significantly different from the scores in 1973. If our old strategy isn’t working, why are we still pursuing it so doggedly?
Big Pharma firms are shedding jobs left and right in its realization that its current business models are becoming increasingly unfruitful and unsustainable. Few drugs become the blockbusters that drug companies need in order to recoup their R&D expenses. The healthcare bill is causing havoc in the insurance industry, and there aren’t enough doctors to treat our population—not to mention a particular shortage of traditional generalist family doctors. Clearly, the healthcare industry is in need of systemic change and business model reinvention.
This isn’t new; it’s been making headlines for years. What continually surprises me, though, is how a lot of companies just don’t get it. The bottom line is that most people no longer rely exclusively on print, so companies shouldn’t rely so heavily on their print business models either. Many companies recognize this paradigm shift. Unfortunately, many others do not–and even if they see the trends, they fail to recognize them and adjust. Cases in point: Borders, Blockbuster, Kodak, and the U.S. Postal Service. For print media to stay afloat and thrive, it’s got to modify its business model. We don’t use the Pony Express anymore, and we’ve upgraded from the typewriter–we’ve found better ways to do what we want with the written word. In the same way, companies involved in printed media have to adapt in order to survive and thrive, rather than trying to muscle their way through a slow death.
The real estate industry is in desperate need of new business strategies. Having suffered devastating losses at the collapse of the housing bubble, it badly needs an overhaul to lift consumer confidence in order to stimulate and sustain growth. Declining or stagnant incomes and the fall of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spell uncertainty for the future of homeownership. It’s hard to say how real estate will emerge from the recession, but it seems that people will have a vastly different outlook on the industry in 2015 as they did in 2007. Industry professionals will have to pivot to readjust.
The slow economic rebound continues to result in waning levels of charitable giving as cash-strapped donors clutch their wallets tightly. Nonprofits must learn to run their businesses more like for-profit ventures in order to decrease their dependence on grants and individual donations, as well as maintain a steady level of funding for upkeep of core programs. Encouraging creativity in approaching complex social issues may also give way to novel and highly effective solutions that are as-yet unimagined.
The U.S. Government
I once spoke with a frustrated consultant for the federal government. She was working to increase efficiency within a federal agency and recommended excising unnecessary activities and redundancies within the organization, and the agency balked. Instead of cutting out outdated processes, it ended up insisting on adding superfluous ones as workarounds.
It turns out that this isn’t uncommon: in fact, the US Government Accountability Office has listed several eliminations of duplications and overlap that could save the government “tens of billions of dollars annually.” No word yet on the government’s progress.
But it’s not just the debt crisis issue. In this global economy, it seems that we have become complacent in sitting atop the laurels of the past innovations that have brought us success. But to stay competitive in the world market, we must drive innovation and encourage thinking about issues in new ways as we develop new talent and move forward from the Great Recession.
What are your thoughts? What have I left out?
About Joy Thomas
Joy is a strategist for Motiv and spearheads business development and marketing efforts in addition to supporting client engagements.