At first glance, this question seems too obvious. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see there’s gold in this question. Carefully considering this question can affect everything from the right feature mix to important go-to-market strategies. Take the classic example—railroad companies were the reigning champs of transportation for decades. It was the de facto way people and materials moved around the country. Then along came cars and airplanes. Over the years, these two innovations severely disrupted the railroad industry. Why did they completely miss the opportunity? They didn’t realize that they were in the transportation business, not the train business. Had they expanded their thinking, they might have realized the opportunity to expand into these high-potential new industries.
Markets and technologies are changing faster than ever, making it that much more important to expand your horizon. The internet, introduced less than two decades ago, has already toppled and created dozens of industries. 3D printers will turn traditional manufacturing on its head. You must to adapt constantly to shifting environments, and this adaptive mindset begins by understanding what business you’re really in.