BETSY COHEN (vice president and futurist, extended enterprise group; Ralston Purina Co.): According to new companies, you had to do everything fast, and our large companies just couldn’t react or were too slow. In reality, I don’t think that we were too slow. We moved quickly on some things. On others, we didn’t — and maybe that was a wise decision.
LARS NYBERG (chairman and CEO, NCR Corp.): Absolutely the biggest misconception was that proÞt isn’t important. But people also grossly underestimated the importance of understanding the customer.
MIKE BRENNAN (senior vice president, marketing and product management; Peapod Inc.): I’d fault new-economy companies for doing things just for the sake of doing things, versus having the fiscal discipline to do things that are smart — and smart in the long term. It’s about having the discipline to understand what’s real and what’s smoke.
MARY LEE SCHNEIDER (president, Premedia Technologies; R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.): I’d say that the greatest misconception was the belief that print is dead — which is kind of a hoot, since it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to reach the consumer. But going forward, we may have to face an even more dangerous misconception: that it’s the old economy versus the new economy.
BRAD BRINEGAR (CEO, Leo Burnett USA): There was also the misconception that big is bad. But in fact, there wasn’t a new-economy company out there that didn’t want to be big. Most of them just never got there. Smaller companies basically faulted big companies for being slow. But those companies got big for a reason. They did something right. Now the question is, Can big companies get past what they used to do in order to do the right things now to keep moving forward?