Dustin S. Klein: Constant reinvention — planned correctly — is a great thing

When asked what the key to remaining relevant in business for an extended period of time was, a prominent CEO once quipped to me, “Planned obsolescence.”

His company followed a strict rule: Every 18 months, it would introduce a new product and make an existing one obsolete. This, he explained, drove innovation and filled the product pipeline.

This same “constant reinvention” philosophy permeates many of the world’s best companies. They understand that to stay competitive you must develop corporate cultures imbued with innovation and the will to try new things.

Apple, for example, regularly introduces new versions of its iPhone, iPad and iPod, thereby ensuring that it keeps revenue streams fresh and products in demand. And rarely a day goes by that you don’t get a notification that an app on your smartphone or tablet has an update available.

SBN reinvention

You may have noticed with our January 2014 edition that we are in the midst of our own little reinvention. While we remain true to our core commitment of bringing you the best insight, advice and strategy from regional business leaders, we have introduced several new initiatives.

First, we added more contributing columnists to the publication and our website. Some of these new voices will appear quarterly; others two to three times per year.

In case you missed them, last month we introduced five of these regular contributors: Mal Mixon, chairman of Invacare Corp.; Terry Davis, president and CEO of Our Lady of the Wayside; JJ DiGeronimo, president of Tech Savvy Women; Stewart Kohl, co-CEO of The Riverside Co.; and Cheryl McMillan, Northeast Ohio Vistage chair.

This month, we feature another group, including Umberto Fedeli, president and CEO of The Fedeli Group; Bill Kitson, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland; Todd Goldstein, CEO and managing partner of LaunchHouse; and William Holdipp Jr. of the Consortium of African American Organizations.

And, in future months, you’ll hear from such regional leaders as Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, JumpStart’s Jerry Frantz, Fairmount Minerals’ Chuck Fowler and Hospice of the Western Reserve’s William E. Finn.

Two new features

Second, we’re excited to introduce two new features — Uniquely Cleveland and Building Stronger Communities.

Uniquely Cleveland provides a behind-the-scenes look at something that’s, well, uniquely Cleveland. This month’s article, for example, looks at some of the items housed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In upcoming editions, we’ll peel back the curtain to discuss the business side of Walnut Wednesdays and PlayhouseSquare, and even explore what goes into pulling off the annual Taste of Tremont.

Our new Building Stronger Communities feature spotlights nonprofit organization leaders who are working hand-in-hand with the business community to strengthen the regions where we all live and work.

We’re also adding more “first-person” features, penned by the entrepreneurs who are shaping Northeast Ohio’s business community. The article written by restaurateur Sam McNulty about why he’s investing in Ohio City, which ran in January’s print edition, is just one example.

Finally, we’re launching a new signature event for 2014 — the Corporate College Smart 50. It will recognize the leaders of the 50 “smartest” organizations in Northeast Ohio, so don’t miss your opportunity for nominations.

All of these new initiatives are designed to bring this region’s business community just a little closer together. As always, we welcome your suggestions for story ideas, people to interview, voices to include and topics to cover. After all, this is your publication. ● 

Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at [email protected] or (440) 250-7026