An inflection point is a dramatic and decisive shift in
your relationship with the market for better or worse. It can be
positive, increasing your success, or negative, as you fall out of
Because it springs from your relationship to the market, this change
comes about one of three ways: (1) you move in relation to the market,
(2) the market moves in relation to you, or (3) you both move in
relation to each other.
Masterful leaders anticipate inflection points and use them to their
advantage, like using a wave’s energy to carry them to a new and better
position or preparing for a setback in conditions to minimize damage to
Most inflection points fall in the third category, simply because
conditions are constantly changing: both yours and the market’s. In
fact, you are a subset of the market, so change on either side results
in change on both sides. But, it is helpful to think in terms of the
first two, to get a handle on how to use market shifts to your
advantage. This is done either by anticipating a major change in
conditions (the market moves) or by planning a decisive pivot that puts
you in a better position to succeed (you move).
An example of the market moving in relation to an organization,
generating a negative inflection point is the recent demise of the
Visiting Nurse Foundation (VNF), a non-profit that served stroke
victims in Pittsburgh. VNF, founded in 1989, had as its primary revenue
source the administration of flu shots. In 2007 state legislators
passed a law permitting pharmacists to give flu injections and the
organization’s main source of funding dwindled severely. The
legislative process was transparent and the coming inflection point
would have been visible to anyone who was looking – apparently they
were not looking. As a result VNF failed to build other revenue sources
and the change led to their demise.
An example of an organization designed from the beginning to create a
positive inflection point is Gazelle.com. As of this writing they are
the US leader in re-commerce , a business founded on buying old or
expired electronics so consumers can buy the latest and greatest.
Re-commerce as a successful innovation was officially recognized in
2005 and Gazelle.com was founded in 2006 to take advantage of it.
They have achieved dramatic and consistent success with 2011
year-over-year growth of 65%.
Discovering inflection points in their early stages is a powerful ally
to successful innovation.
In 2013 my next book, Getting Innovation
Right: How Leaders Create Inflection Points that Drive Success in the
Marketplace, will be released. In the months ahead I will
publish excerpts like the introduction to inflection points above.
If you book conferences, contact me for a special deal in 2013 – I will
be offering over 50% of my speaker’s fee toward copies of the book for
your audience. All arrangements to take place through my
Neilssen, at BrightSightGroup.com.