Being on top can bring with it a number disadvantages.
1.Size - like comparing a giant fuel tanker with a small sail boat, the tanker is on course and it take a long time for it to change course, even slowing down take a long time. Were as the sail- boat might not have as much in the way of power and presence but can identify obstacle's and quickly change course its agile.
2.Mature Culture - now cultures are great and they are what makes an organisation what it is, a bit like a personality of an individual. Mature companies can be so focussed on what worked for them to give them the original success they miss things that are happening outside of their bubble.
3.Arrogance - The business believes they are the best, well everyone keeps buying our product so we must be here for the long term. they miss those subtle changes miss what the competition is working on and miss potential disruptive innovation. They don't believe they need to change anything !.
So what does all that actually mean where can we see what Strategic drift are there examples of companies?.
A classic strategic drift company totally top of their industry and their product was Nokia. Nokia were market leaders in the mobile phone market, the hands set were robust, battery life was brilliant. Everyone either had the latest Nokia or wanted one.
They had focussed on the phone as a communication device, stayed with their original idea product. Whilst other companies identified the need for a Smart Phone allowing users to have more than just an amazing mobile phone. Nokia strategy had resulted in them drifting away from what was emerging in the handset market. Their market share and dominance were eroded with the emergence of companies like Apple and Samsung.
So could they have avoided their demise? ultimately they could have had the market share that Apple currently enjoy ( note I say currently). However it would have required a change in culture over a period of time, new developments and people in the organisation that not only could see changing trends and technology advancement but could change the companies direction. Just think about it if you are number 1 in your field and someone says, "these hand set are great but let's make something completely different" it's a big risk and as the CEO would you take that leap of faith. So Nokia could have remained number 1 but Culture, Size and arrogance prevented them from doing so.
The take away from this post is continually review your business strategy, what changing in the world that could affect your current position. For smaller organisations identifying these trends could result in your product or service rising up to replace the current organisation that occupy that space.
Being the biggest or the market leader is not always an easy position to be in.
Remember change is not a bad thing what you originally set out to achieve may change don't be too precious on your original idea, product or service because if no one is buying it or wants it anymore its just your passion.