Foreword for

September 15, 2000

By Rick Steele, President and CEO,

Survival of the fittest. Most of us were taught about Darwin's theory in early science classes, which suggests that the survival of groups of animals and plants is contingent upon their ability to successfully adapt to their environments. Darwin's theory of natural selection is no less valid in the world of business, where those companies that are slow to adjust to change-whether mandated by Wall Street, competition or customers-are often removed from the landscape by the same ruthless imperative that governs their biological counterparts.

Whereas Darwin studied change that occurred over many centuries, today we are forced to look at the evolution and survival of businesses in terms of years, months and even days. When technological advances and competitive demands are coming at a pace so dizzying that businesses sometimes feel they have their hands full just keeping up, change is constant and must be looked upon as an opportunity.

Without a doubt, the Internet, and the resulting "E-conomy," has been the catalyst of change in today's fast-paced, high-intensity business climate. In just a matter of years, the E-conomy has had a phenomenal and profound impact on so many facets of our lives, from the way we work and play to the way we shop and communicate. The emerging trends, explosive market conditions and evolving technologies of the 1990s provided tremendous, global opportunities for those of us who were-and are-willing to seize them.

And, since the Internet is here to stay for the foreseeable future, those businesses that don't take heed and that ignore the advice presented in the pages that follow, risk becoming the next victims of the Internet Age. For survival in today's competitive environment requires a total rethinking of the old ways of doing business-from marketing and customer service to establishing business partnerships and managing employees. Chapter after chapter, Mitchell does an excellent job of examining how business leaders are transforming strategies and operations in response to the growing impact of the Internet on their companies.

It seems that today's fittest companies are those that are in a constant state of careful, honest re-evaluation and are able to adapt to their changing environments. In this book, Mitchell's examination of management challenges provides readers with the emerging trends and though-provoking cases, which will encourage the re-thinking that is necessary to succeed. One thing that you will find is that many industry leaders approach this exercise with an open mind, a flexible plan and a commitment to two things: change and the customer.

Everyday, I am applying these very principles to my own company, which has seen numerous changes over the years and has evolved from a contract-based multimedia design company founded in 1994. While I am not ashamed to say that the business model, product line, customer base and marketing strategies have changed drastically throughout this evolution, I am proud to tell you that two things have remained untouched every step of the way.

You guessed it, my commitment to: 1) changing the company in response to market, competitive and customer demands and 2) doing what is best for the customer every single time.