Are you suffering from the Boiling Frog syndrome?

The fact Blockbuster may file for bankruptcy protection ( was the impetus I needed to finally write this post.

I was introduced to the concept of Boiling Frog syndrome at a conference I attended in early March 2k10. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. For more details on the Boiling Frog syndrome, refer to this wiki link :

While I am using this as a metaphor only, there are some useful analogies that can be drawn.

With Moore’s law incessantly driving increases in computing power, the rapid evolution & adoption of a real time web enabled/ mobile ecosystem is galvanizing, and coalescing around the human networks afforded by Twitter, FB, LI, Youtube, Myspace, blogs, and Location sharing apps (like Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp, etc). Augmented reality, and instances of nanobots stopping your own neurons from firing in the brain, and firing their own to transport you into virtual reality is also, only a matter of time 🙂 Cloud computing will make things even more interesting, once they figure out privacy, security, and other legal issues that will surely multiply due to the impending “privacy by demand” scenario. The bottom-line : “time to react” has been exponentially reduced due to this accelerated rate of change.

Companies like Blockbuster, United Airlines,  and every other company/individual who is complacent enough to wait for others to make a move,  fail to look to the future, and is hesitant to lose apparent control of brand image, is essentially exhibiting the boiling frog syndrome, and will eventually die.

Survival in this constantly shifting, and evolving landscape will hinge on who is “most sensitive” to the environment, listens & learns, reacts quicker,  and more efficiently, while providing genuine value to consumers, customers, or employees. Failure is inevitable, it is how you react that will be the key discriminating variable.

For that, you will need processes, and policies in place that address Enterprise2.0, Web2.0, SMO, sCRM, Collaboration & other integration initiatives – the tools that let you design, and deliver the ultimate consumer experience. Somehow, it always boils (no pun intended) down to the  consumer experience.

That being said, all of the processes, and policies in the world will be for naught, unless the culture within companies become more inclusive, more participatory, more open, and more embracing of change.

I find it hard to believe that current systems can be adapted to address complex office dynamics, and cross-functional collaboration efforts, in this brave new world, without a change in mindset. That, definitely, is easier said than done.

What do you think? Which companies do you think are adapting to the new reality better? Would welcome your thoughts.



10 responses to “Are you suffering from the Boiling Frog syndrome?

  1. Murphy’s Law? Did you mean Moore’s Law? And we are actually catching up faster with Moore’s Law than we may like to think 🙂

    • Indeed, it should be Moore’s Law. And thank you for pointing it out. I have corrected it 🙂 You see, I have been at the receiving end of Murphy’s law way too much, almost enough to make it my universal law, and often, at the expense of great one’s like Moore’s law 🙂

  2. I can tell you who is not doing very well. Nestle and the whole KitKat and Nestle Facebook Fiasco.

    Very readable piece, apologies I cant add much more to the topic though

  3. I like your thought process. I have been thinking along these lines; bluntly put ~ who is going to adapt and repurpose and who is going to die.

    Before the “Boiling Frog Syndrome” we had the “Buggy Whip” example. Buggies were replaced, and the automobile did not require a whip! The “Buggy Whip” became obsolete (why didn’t they think steering wheels?) and their ultimate claim to fame is being known as the symbol for anything that is hopelessly outmoded, rather then an innovative company that repurposed itself into the 20C.

    Email has made the deliverable letter obsolete. The US post Office IMO should have figured out a way of repurposing themselves a long time ago ~ not likely as a Govt. run entity:-) but in an ideal world the USPO should have come up with the Federal Express idea (and not entrepreneur Fred Smith) and almost consecutively become a network of local ISPs ~ documents/letters by email & packages fast overnight worldwide.

    Some years ago (and quite a bit too early) I was one of the founders of a start up “sendVIDEO” ~ we were thinking about the logical eventual fate of video stores. What if Blockbuster had embraced our idea all those years ago and morphed it into a pay-per-view U tube? Or even Netflix ?

    Active Imaging (a company I consulted for in the mid- 1990s) had the first camera/server with IP address broadcasting live video over the internet (15 frames/second expanded to 30 during my time there) Interesting the CEO did show this innovative “internet camera” device to Kodak, and what if Kodak had created a new business model around it? Instead Active Imaging was sold to a security company in the UK & Kodak morphed into something else (at least they morphed)

    Will IBM become an energy management company? Will GE become an alternative (wind and solar) energy company? Can these gigantic companies muster up enough innovation from the inside? Or can they accept the ideas from innovative start up companies on the outside; overcoming one of the biggest barriers called NIH?

    Apologies for adding questions here rather then solutions. I’ll keep thinking about it and I am definitely interested in continuing this discussion. Your Blog is off to a really GREAT start. @CASUDI

    • Thanks for the excellent parallels, Caroline. You make some excellent points. The music industry is moving towards downloads, subscriptions, and merchandising – the current model may not be unsustainable, IMO. Google is licensed to sell energy 🙂 Interesting times ahead!!


  4. I love that I can come here and feel like I can keep my pulse on issues that are important but that I don’t personally write about. You made some excellent points, and I loved the point made by CASUDI about the USPS. I am not familiar with the Facebook Nestle thing so I am off to explore. Hope you are well!

  5. Great article really enjoyed reading it, its amazing looking over the last 5 years and seeing the huge change in the we do everyday business. Competition has increased and the work involved in getting your name amongst the giants is harder than ever.

    But with the opportunity of simple free online advertising with facebook, twitter and countless other platforms its also a great place to be for small businesses.

  6. while searching for classifieds It was nice to read this awesome nice Post.

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