What would you do if you were starting from scratch? This is a question businesses seldom ask themselves. Yet it's an essential one, a destructive one and ultimately one that's at the root of reinvention.

The classic paradox of business is that once you grow, you lose your edge. Where once was disruption, now there's predictability. Steve Blank, father of the Lean Startup movement, says that a startup is an organization designed to search for a sustainable, repeatable business model. It follows, then, that an established company is an organization designed to perpetuate an existing business model.

Perpetuating business models is what got Kodak in trouble when it missed the digital camera market (indeed, after mobile phones, the most prolific camera on Flickr is a Canon, by a company that made the jump to digital scanners and printers). Perpetuating business models is why Blockbuster isn't Netflix -- the former framed itself in the video store business, not the entertainment delivery business.

Startups often trump big companies simply because they have nothing to lose. They're more tolerant of risk, more aware of their own mortality and more willing to gamble. They don't know what business they're in, so they thrash around, trying things out.

Big companies have started to take notice. In 1950, the average company on the S&P 500 stayed there for half a century. In 2012, a company stays there for 13 years. The barriers to entry that made large organizations comfortable and complacent have quickly eroded in the face of ubiquitous computing.

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