Staying competitive: Lessons learned from the Big 3 (Part 1 of 3)

The 2013 Detroit Auto Show was, as always, a great showcase for the City of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the American auto industry. To me, this year’s show was a particularly resonant and powerful reminder of how far the industry has come in a relatively short time, and, as someone who lives and works in the Motor City, the degree to which a healthy and globally competitive automotive sector has rekindled enthusiasm in building up and investing in Detroit is truly exciting and inspiring.

In the context of recovery and moving forward, the auto show also started me thinking about the importance of staying ahead of the game. Yes, the Big Three is on the rebound, which will undoubtedly benefit the city, but I think entrepreneurs and professionals in a number of industries can take some important lessons from their struggles in recent years.

The most important of those, to my mind, is to never take your market position for granted. Even when you are a market leader, you have to continue to control costs, value our customers and work to be a leader in your industry. Very few organizations are too big to fail. If the titans of the U.S. auto industry can struggle, what does that tell the rest of us about the importance of continuing to grow and improve?

Treading water is not enough: If you’re not striving, you’re declining, and if you’re not adapting, then you’re falling behind. Take my word for it, if you aren’t innovating and improving, someone else is. While the auto industry is in the midst rebirth and success, we should all heed their lessons: Don’t get complacent—reinvest and improve your processes and products.

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