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What Companies Are Best at Keeping Up With Changing Markets?

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What are some of the most effective examples of corporate leadership in recent years? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Maxim Sytch, Associate Prof of Management, University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, on Quora:

Many companies that once dominated the market in a particular business category no longer exist. Only 61 companies of the original Fortune 500 are still on the list. The vast majority disappeared: think of brands such as Polaroid, Borders, Radio Shack, or Blockbuster. These corporate dinosaurs are extinct because they failed to reinvent themselves in the context of a rapidly changing business environment. The instant photography leader Polaroid was obliterated by digital photography, Blockbuster was run into the ground by DVD mailing and online streaming companies, whereas Borders and Radio Shack could not compete with online book and electronics retailers.

With today's dynamic environment in mind, the company that impresses me most is Netflix with Reed Hastings at the helm. Netflix has radically and effectively reinvented itself multiple times. It first grew by discovering a business opportunity in mailing DVDs to viewers' homes, thereby avoiding the costs of operating brick and mortar video stores. As the broadband Internet adoption proliferated, it transformed itself once again, this time into a video-streaming company. But the competition has caught up once again, wherein Apple, Amazon, and many others now stream video content as well. With its hard-driving and performance-oriented culture, Netflix has yet again transformed itself by competing not just on the channels of distribution but also on uniquely designed content. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that "House of Cards" is one of my favorite shows.

Another example is Menlo Innovations, led by Rich Sheridan, and located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Menlo Innovations is medium-size software development company with a knack for customer-centric design. This company's employees create and sustain one of the most unique corporate cultures I have ever seen. It is a very inclusive culture, with subdued formal hierarchy, strong teamwork values, and very direct, open, and continuous feedback that is aimed at helping people learn and develop. Rich often says, "You either love this culture or you hate it." For those who choose to be at Menlo, this culture makes working at Menlo incredibly desirable, rewarding, and fulfilling.

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