Surfing on Disruption

“Thinking outside the box” has taken a whole new meaning in the modern competitive backdrop. It’s like a violent storm that brings larger and more vicious waves that are more devastating each time round.

The waves that go unheard and yet manage to grace the headlines are known as “Disruptive Innovations”.

Disruption defined

The term, coined by Clayton Christensen is described as “a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors”.

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” – Palm CEO Ed Colligan in 2006, after news that Apple was developing a phone.

Christensen further delves into this topic in his book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” where he brings to light the distinct choice each company faces. Each company must either choose sustaining innovation and adhere to the current market trends and bring steady improvements or opt for a radical new approach and come up with a unique business model, known as disruptive innovation.

The essence of disruption

What exactly causes disruption? Who sets it off?

It takes more than just clairvoyance to become a disruptor. While creativity, prediction, forward-thinking are important qualities that aid their clarity towards the progress and needs of human kind, disruptors have something more. This includes two distinct interests i.e. influence in the market and having the necessary technology complemented by a business model to properly implement its vision.

Influential people are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re the ones who constantly ask, ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?’ They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom and they don’t disrupt things for the sake of being disruptive; they do it to make things better – Travis Bradsburry

This is what may cause a clairvoyant to be proven incorrect. Even if they’re not, they may not be alive to see their vision come to fruition. However, an innovator – buoyed up by a disruptor – can create history by being the very definition of a risk-taker that transforms service to its customers.

The role of the customer benefited by Disruption

Discussions of disruptions are often accompanied by a sense of fear and uncertainty. This originates from potential disruptors and disruptes themselves in the form of questions like, “How to become the next big disruptor of my generation?” or “Am I threatened by disruption?”

Disruption starts with committing to excellence and taking a stand for your customer – Lewis Howes

This is, personally, the right strategy to change a potential threat to an opportunity. This eliminates the idea of fear or distrust from the equation altogether.

Key elements to embrace Innovation

These are some of the most important aspects to consider which may aid your decision to interact with disrupting entities:

1. Create Openness mentality in your organizational culture

Initiate developing a culture within your organization from top to bottom. This facilitates technological innovation rather than stifling it.

This also represents the best strategy for established and well reputed organizations that have been operational for decades.

2. Foster decision makers to analyze offers together with SMEs:

It makes it easier for decision makers to come up with a solution if they are accompanied by people who’ll be directly affected by the decision. A lack of communication or the feeling of being left out from important corporate decisions that directly impact them is something that can lead to a wedge within the organization. There is a possibility that the young blood within your organization feels subdued by the lack of modern techniques in your workplace and is alienated from the decision makers.

3. Establish industry relationships with competitors, media and solution providers

A strong network is like a goldmine in the industry, filled with practical solutions that might benefit your company. Establishing relationships with your competitors would lend you a competitive edge over all others in the industry.

4. Watch cost aspect of Innovation being offered

There’s always the chance that your loyal customers may find a better offer elsewhere. This better offer often comes with the allure of being associated with an innovation guaranteed to change the market. It’s both reasonable and logical that a relationship where both stand to gain without any added risk is something that would attract almost anyone. Be ready to accept the results of such disruption and have a company culture that can easily adapt to these new waves.

In terms of surfing lingo, it is said that good core muscle strength is an unalienable part of surfing with proper balance. Similarly, the vertical jumps and strong swimming on your surf board are an essential combination if you want to catch the waves of disruption properly.

How strong is your core?