I think I have a new favorite quote of all time. Time Warner Cable’s Chief Operating Officer, Landel Hobbs, recently said he doesn’t see evidence of people dropping cable in favor of the Internet.
I cut the cord and so did many of the people I know. The tsunami of departures from cable might only be a trickle now, but does anyone really believe that it won’t happen over time?
Let me give you proof that this is a “when” question and not an “if” question. Do you know what generates the most traffic during peak TV viewing hours on the Internet these days? Not social networking or porn, but Netflix on-demand video service. Hint, hint.
Why isn’t this news to me? Because I’m busy watching Netflix.
Ironically we’ve seen this all happen before. Remember when phone companies thought that everyone would continue to have a landline and a cell phone? Sure there are technologies that compliment existing technologies. But when you can get what you need, and more, from a new technology most of us eventually move on.
Back to Mr. Hobbs. He has become my poster boy for denying reality. And unfortunately the people who work at his company will undoubtedly pay for this in lost opportunities and layoffs.
If you think this is too strong a statement, look no further than Blockbuster. Once a dominant player in entertainment, they whistled into the winds of change when Netflix first appeared. And ever since they’ve been satisfied to try to copy each strategic advance by Netflix. You know what happened, people figured this out. And they decided they’d rather be on board with the leader, and not the industry laggard.
No executive today can afford to write off the canaries in the coal mine any longer. Today you’ve not only got to keep your eyes open for competitors, you’ve got to assume they’re coming, like a freight train. Are you listening to me Mr. Cable Guy? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Mr. Hobbs, a.k.a. Mr. Asleep at the Switch, getting run over by reality. But I’m sad that a lot of the people inside his company, who are awake and ready to offer alternative strategies for surviving the changes that lay ahead, have to exist under someone who is in denial.
Ever heard the phrase “that’s why he earns the big bucks?” Mr. Hobbs, using that same logic you are doing nothing short of stealing from your company and it’s people.
Sorry to be so bold, but I have this old-school belief that leaders should lead.
About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.