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Ruled by Price

Seth Godin had a post today about Becoming the Bus Company, a list of common behaviors that are exhibited by organizations well on the road to trading commodities as opposed to providing a remarkable service. It makes me wonder if all companies that fail to innovate are doomed to walk this path after their glory begins to fade?

It seems like a vicious cycle – as competition gets fierce, customers use online tools or purchasing departments to always get the lowest price. As a result the companies focus on trimming every penny and things start to suffer. In turn, morale slowly fades as everyone gets crushed under the bureaucracy.

Companies like Southwest and Virgin, built around a vision (reminding me that they have their “Why” in order), remain above the fray while everyone else teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.

My big question is: Does anyone have an example of someone that pulled it back from the edge? The only thing I can think of is Apple with the return of Jobs. Even more interesting – has it ever happened from the bottom up, or is this limited to dynamic leaders?