I often write in my books about companies who have been at the top of their game and the forefront of their market niche and then lost it all by not paying attention to the changes coming their way. Such has been the case with Whole Foods who, according to a recent case study by the Wall Street Journal, began their business by providing natural and organic products and growing faster for a number of years than others in the grocery business. The company tapped into an emerging population of affluent urbanites who were interested in a new way of eating and grocery shopping and were willing to pay more for the cachet that Whole Foods offered. However, other food purveyors, including Kroeger and Wal-Mart, entered the market with similar offerings at lower prices. As is typical of these kind of “change scenarios,” Whole Foods’ leaders had failed to recognize the business threats represented by these changes. As is often the case with a business that has worked hard to gain success and has become complaisant and comfortable, the leaders failed to recognize the extent of the impacts that were to result. A lesson to take to heart: Always scan the changes occurring and constantly assess their potential impacts. When changes are detected, actions can be taken to avert adverse effects.

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