Going Under: Could It Happen to You?

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- My area Blockbuster and Hollywood video stores are no more.

The two mega-bookseller Borders stores in my area gone.

Heck, the world automotive icon, GM had earned the right to go bankrupt, but the Obama administration wouldn't allow it.

Pundits will say the combination of recession, competition, and change in general, have forced their business' demise.

Is that the real reason, or was the individual company's leadership complacency or incompetence to blame?

Better leadership would be better prepared for a changing market

In every scenario, the common links were executives content with the status quo, denying the truth of the emerging reality, bowed to the demands of short-term self-interests over long-term sustainability.

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These are problems of leaders, not businesses and not economies.

The demand for critical thinking and strategic planning for leaders is past the critical stage. Focus on the future is no longer an option but a mandate.

10 Questions for Relevance and Sustainability

1. Are the guiding principles of your business relevant and demonstrated?

2. How must your business change to thrive over the next five years?

3. What new services will you offer?

4. What services will you discontinue?

5. What new products will you launch?

6. What new products are no longer relevant or profitable?

7. How will your mix of clients change?

8. How will your approach to marketing, selling and service delivery evolve?

9. What new talent and skill sets does your team need to succeed in the emerging market?

10. Are the right leaders in place throughout the functional areas of the firm?

You can be sure that the string of high-profile bankruptcies will continue. You can be sure that the string of unethical conduct and scandals will continue. You can be sure ineffective CEO turnover will increase. Sadly, so will their golden parachutes, although I can't figure that one out, save perhaps the boards were also lax in their long-term thinking when they approved the CEO hiring contracts.

Avoiding the fate of irrelevance begins with chucking the blind optimism and hope rhetoric and rolling up the sleeves and getting the right professional input and talent to admit: change is coming at a velocity and force unlike anything we have experienced.

As such, we can't dodge, duck or cover any longer.

Stop pretending your organization is immune. You can't kick the can down the road anymore. It's your can on the line now. Before you've blown the company budget, set aside a prudent amount for engaging in strategic planning resources.

Failure is an option -- simply choose not to do it.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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