Harvard Business Review has an interesting piece by Bill Taylor (former editor of Fast Company) in which he argues that one of the most important chapters in any business success story often is facing "at least one 'near-death experience' during the course of its long-term success. I don’t mean a few quarters of sluggish growth or a one-time product flop, but a radical shift in its market, a major technology disruption, or a disastrous strategic bet that threatened the company’s very existence."
This fact, Taylor suggests, is because it is "hard for companies and leaders to embrace change and break with the past without a near-death experience … too many companies and leaders, and often the best companies and the most successful leaders, struggle with the frustrating reality that the more deeply immersed you are in a market, a product category, or a technology, the harder it becomes to open your mind to new business models that may reshape that market or exciting ways to leapfrog that technology. Past results may not be the enemy of subsequent breakthroughs, but they can constrain your capacity to grasp the future."
Provocative piece, and you can read it here.