thrive, in, the, era, of, disruption

Photo : Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Business’s current era has been shaped and defined by disruptive innovation. Think of Uber upturning the century-old taxi industry, Netflix radically remodeling the entertainment industry, e-commerce platforms reshaping the retail industry – and any number of other innovative tech companies swooping in and fundamentally altering what we think we know about commerce.

And these are just the headline-grabbing examples. As technology propels forward at a whirlwind pace – and as consumers find their voice in traditionally gatekept industries – the conditions for disruptive innovation have never been better.

If you are a business owner or industry professional, you may ask yourself: how do I fit into this era of disruption? The choice is ultimately yours. You can control whether you are an instrument for change in your industry, or on the losing end of disruptive innovation.

Here’s how to thrive in the new era of disruption.

Remain Agile

It can be challenging to separate the new industry-shattering ideas from the fads. But, while you may tell yourself that you are “riding out” the latest flash-in-the-pan trend, the reality may be that you’re choosing a critical time to resist an inevitable change.

No one is advocating for your business to accept every new idea that comes its way. Instead, the best advice is to remain open and agile, tempered in your decision-making with a critical sensibility about how things are moving in your industry.

Capitalize on Your Windows of Opportunity

If you want to be disruptive in your industry, keep an ear to the ground for favorable conditions.

Regan McGee, the disruptive and innovative CEO of Nobul, describe his company’s entrance into the real estate industry as “Born of the perfect storm, Nobul introduces transparency, accountability and simplicity at a crucial time, as recent regulatory changes, long standing demand for industry advancement and an embrace of digital technologies have become too prevalent to ignore. I witnessed my opportunity to create and lead a real estate revolution – and I took it.”

Rip a page from McGee’s playbook and capitalize on your windows of opportunity.

Understand Your Customers

Disruption for disruption’s sake isn’t always a shrewd move. Nor is hopping on the bandwagon of the latest disruptive innovation in your industry. Remember that bit above about demonstrating critical sensibility in your adoption of potentially disruptive technologies? The receiving end of that evaluative approach should always be the consumer.

Put more plainly: understand your customers, and you will thrive in the era of disruption (Forbes calls this getting “your North Star in focus”). Understanding consumer wants, needs, expectations and proclivities will help steer your decision-making, providing a roadmap for what innovations to embrace – and which to ignore.

Identify Your Company’s – and Your Competitor’s – Strengths

Clayton M. Christensen, the man who coined the term “disruptive innovation,” wrote a subsequent article for the Harvard Business Review titled “Surviving Disruption.” In it, he offers his advice for determining how disruption-proof your business is.

“To determine whether a missile will hit you dead-on, graze you, or pass you altogether,” says Christensen, “you need to identify the strengths of your disrupter’s business model… (and) identify your own relative advantages.” These insights will tell you a) what kinds of customers the disruptor will attract and b) what customers they won’t attract. From there, you can determine how many of each kind of customer you currently have in your consumer base to understand the overall weather ability of your business.

By remaining agile, jumping on opportunities, spotlighting the consumer and evaluating your competition, you can thrive in the era of disruption. Whether you are a disruptor yourself, or an incremental innovator, these steps give you the tools you need to succeed.

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