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Failing Like a Buggy Whip Maker? Better Check Your Simile

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Buggy whips, used to prod the horses harnessed to wagons and carriages, started to become obsolete when automobiles appeared in the late 19th century. Today, any line of business facing the life-or-death challenge of a digital age will be described, sooner or later, as a contemporary buggy whip maker.

But when one looks at the mechanics of the horse-and-buggy era, it quickly becomes clear that carriage makers and carriage parts makers would serve as much better case studies of attempted technological adaptation. The buggy whip makers were mere fringe players at the margins of the carriage business, which centered on wood and iron work.

The buggy whip analogy is “an obscurity sitting on an anachronism,” said Daniel M. G. Raff, an associate professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business..._medium=twitter


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