business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

When Kevin wrote about the rise of superbugs last week it should have caught your attention on two levels.

First, it really should concern all of us that so many nasty organisms are evolving immunities to every existing solution because bacteria are always a major concern in an industry selling food.

But second we need to reflect on how those bugs are changing as we think about the world of competition. Seriously, the parallel is huge.

Years back, when I worked at the Food Marketing Institute, I would regularly have that very conversation with our food safety specialist, Dr. Jill Hollingsworth. Because Jill always knew more about food safety than anyone else out there, I always sought her insights when the industry faced serious outbreaks of food borne illness.

Jill taught me the basic lesson of biology, also wonderfully articulated by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: Life will find a way.

In other words, no matter how much science advances to fight the bad bugs, those bugs will continually find a way to evolve in order to survive. It’s simply their nature.

The parallel Jill and I always discussed was how that compared to competition because the same truths hold. Competition will always find a way.

That’s why no company should ever delude itself into thinking it has created the perfect product, store or service. Perfection is impossible because consumer habits are constantly shifting and competition constantly evolving to serve those emerging new needs. At best you have a temporary answer.

What more, keep in mind this other rule of biological evolution: it’s not the biggest and strongest that survives. It’s the fittest or the ones most capable of adapting to the changed environment. That’s why the gigantic dinosaurs are gone and cockroaches live on.

Again, the lesson should not be lost on business. We all need to continue to change with our environment recognizing that tomorrow will always bring new challenges. The more nimble, flexible, creative and, yes, fit we are, the better our opportunity to survive and thrive.

In truth, we have no idea what the future holds. We can speculate, but never know for certain if e-commerce is actually going to work or whether Amazon and others will actually reshape the industry.

Nor can we know for sure if value-based European retailers Aldi and Lidl will succeed as they have throughout their home continent. They might succeed or like other European retail invaders they may find the American market different and inhospitable.

Change, as we like to say, is inevitable - whether it concerns competition or bacteria.

Sounds like pretty powerful motivation to stay really, really fit.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@mnb.grocerywebsite.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
KC's View: