Creative Destruction

Folks I know are still abuzz over the Martin Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, telecast a few weeks ago on the Public Broadcasting System. It's no surprise that my musician and actor friends have been energized by it, but business clients, too? What gives? Maybe it's because so many leaders in business are baby boomers and Dylan was a major contributor to the soundtrack of their lives in their formative years. But more importantly, the film is a powerful reminder that it sometimes makes business sense to blow up what you're successfully doing and start over. No Direction Home accurately portrays Dylan as a pioneer/mutineer who kept burning his bridges and creating new markets as he moved on. Initially he branded himself as a traditional folk singer, then as a singer of self-penned topical protest songs, then as a stream-of-consciousness psychedelic poet, then as a rock star—before retiring, temporarily, in the late 1960s. Want to see creative destruction in action? Witness Dylan "going electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (and in other concerts for the next two years) with a noisy band of rock musicians—a move that ENRAGED many of his core customers. Yet Dylan picked up new customers with every reboot. He'd be loath to call it a business strategy, but it was certainly a successful one. Something here for us to learn?