Fast Company recently convened a Fast Talk session in Chicago,
bringing together some of the smartest people from some of the
strongest and oldest brands in the world. Our objective: New
insights on emerging best practices when it comes to customers,
technology, and business.
ALAN WEBBER (founding editor, Fast Company): Rumors of the
death of old-economy companies, it turns out, were þat-out wrong.
To get started, let's have a lightning round: What's the biggest
misconception that you've heard over the past couple of years about
what was wrong with old-economy companies? You choose: Gloat or
AMY WILLIAMS (vice president, FInance and planning; Allstate
Insurance Co.): People kept telling us, "You just don't get it.
It's about how many customers you have." But no one talked about
the economics. To me, the great lesson is that you have to focus on
both the customers and the economics.
FRED CRAWFORD (global executive vice president, consumer
products, retail, and distribution; Cap Gemini Ernst & Young
Consulting Services): New companies were overhyped, old
companies were maligned, and both were wrong. The reality is that
consumers have changed, and what they want has changed. Going
forward, we're going to require a blend of the best that new- and
old-economy companies have to offer.
JIM SAPPINGTON (vice president, U.S. information technology;
McDonald's Corp.): The idea that old-economy companies can't
change or are too big to move fast is wrong. Right now, we're
seeing old-economy companies move much faster than we thought they
WARREN HOLTSBERG (corporate vice president, venture investing;
Motor-ola Inc.): My favorite misread was the idea that business
fundamentals had changed - that the traditional ways of doing
business didn't matter anymore: If you sold enough product or
enough items at a loss, eventually you'd make a proÞt.