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Four Companies That Broke Boundaries And Innovated Like Crazy

Gary Harpst, founder, and CEO of LeadFirst, shares an inspiring roundup of companies that famously vaulted over limitations to create something new.

The constraints we face in business—tight deadlines, limited resources, a worrisome talent shortage—don’t have to limit our success. In fact, says Gary Harpst, they can unleash our creativity and lead to big innovations.

Here are four companies that famously vaulted over limitations to create something completely new.



Outrunning obsolescence.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Remember, Netflix started as a DVD rental service, but as technology advanced, it faced the roadblock of declining DVD sales. Instead of clinging to the past, Netflix pivoted and invested in streaming technology. This bold move allowed the company to disrupt the entertainment industry and become a dominant player in the streaming market.


Delta Air Lines

Solving the pilot shortage.

Photo Credit: Aerial view of four parked Boeing 717-200 aircraft, Delta.

In a time when airlines are struggling to find enough pilots, Delta got creative. It recently announced its new flight academy program in partnership with Skyborne Airline Academy. The idea is to ensure a steady supply of talent by training the next generation of pilots. Other airlines, such as United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, have also launched similar programs. This trend presents an opportunity for businesses in other industries to learn from these examples and develop their own strategies for attracting and nurturing talent through educational initiatives and engagement programs.



Staging a great comeback.

Photo Credit: Apple MixC Shenzhen, Apple Inc.

Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies, has experienced setbacks and constraints throughout its history. In the late 1990s, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. However, under Steve Jobs’s leadership, Apple demonstrated resilience by refocusing on a few core products, such as the iMac, and later, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Apple’s resilience helped it become a dominant player in the technology industry.



Flipping housing constraints into a sharing economy platform.

Photo Credit: Airbnb

Airbnb was born out of a roadblock faced by its founders, who struggled to afford rent in San Francisco. Rather than thinking of themselves as victims, they turned this challenge into an opportunity by creating a platform that allowed people to rent out their spare rooms or homes to travelers. This innovative idea led to the birth of the sharing economy and transformed the way people travel and find accommodations.


Gary Harpst is the author of Built to Beat Chaos: Biblical Wisdom for Leading Yourself and Others. He is the founder and CEO of LeadFirst. LeadFirst was founded in 2000 (as Six Disciplines) with a mission of building effective leaders and helping small and mid-size companies manage change, grow, and execute. Having been a CEO for 40 years, Gary has experienced the challenges of every aspect of business ownership, from start-up to rapid growth to acquiring other companies to being acquired. (Solomon Software, which he co-founded, was purchased by Great Plains and ultimately sold to Microsoft.) He is a keynote speaker, writer, and teacher whose areas of focus include leadership, business, and the integration of faith at work. He has been recognized as one of the Top 100 of the nation’s top thought-leaders in management and leadership by Leadership Excellence magazine. In addition to Built to Beat Chaos, he has written two other books: Six Disciplines for Excellence and Execution Revolution. Learn more at leadfirst.ai.


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