In this landmark article, Theodore
Levitt argues that "the history of every dead and dying 'growth'
industry shows a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and
undetected decay." Railroads failed not because the need for
passenger transportation declined or because that need was filled by
cars, airplanes, and other modes of transport. Rather, the industry
failed because those behind it assumed they were in the railroad
business rather than the transportation business. They were
railroad-oriented instead of transportation-oriented,
product-oriented instead of customer-oriented. For companies to
ensure continued evolution, they must define their industries
broadly to take advantage of growth opportunities. They must
ascertain and act on their customers' needs and desires, not take
demand for granted. An organization must learn to think of itself
not as producing goods or services but as doing the things that will
make people want to do business with it.