Disrupt or Be Disrupted
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to prioritize reinvention. If your organization has become intoxicated by its own success, your job is to infuse at every level the same creative hunger that launched it in the first place. The market no longer leaves room for me-too players, a principle that applies to both companies and individuals. Remarkable category-of-one products, services and processes are the driving force of our fist-fighting economy. The choices are clear: disrupt, or be disrupted.
Global markets and rapidly evolving technologies have turned the rules for winning upside down. Hard skills born in the Industrial Revolution, including manufacturing expertise, strong customer service skills and even accounting excellence, are now outsourced or allocated to technology.
Creativity is the new, most effectively sustainable competitive advantage; it’s the one thing that no company can outsource. That makes disruptive innovation your most valuable natural resource, even though it isn’t displayed on the balance sheet.
When it comes to reinvention, getting started is the hardest part of the task, but it’s also the most important. In today’s warp-speed world, swiftness wins. If you wait to try a new idea until you’ve carefully orchestrated every possible maneuver, the world will pass you by while you’re busy planning. As Rupert Murdoch said, “Big will not beat small anymore. It will be fast beating the slow.”
Even after making the first leap toward innovative change, many of us get discouraged when we can’t reach our goals at Internet speed. We fail to understand that reinvention isn’t an event; it’s a lifelong process. There are bursting moments of creative insight, but the research shows that most creative breakthroughs come by chipping away at a problem.
Too often, people use the words reinvention and turnaround interchangeably. In fact, these are radically different concepts. Turnarounds are generally reactionary, desperate responses to crushing challenges. The goal in a turnaround is simply short-term survival.
There are two key problems with turnarounds. First, the reactionary, short-sighted mindset driving any turnaround is the exact opposite of the thinking needed to sustain long-term growth and innovation. Turnaround specialists slash costs, crack the whip, and generally put all innovation efforts on hold. This mindset damages the organization by stripping away its creative flair.
Second, by the time a turnaround is necessary, it is often too late. Once organizations have stumbled enough to necessitate a turnaround effort, only 10 percent ever regain their market leadership.
Your job is to make sure that your organization never gets to the point that it needs a turnaround. Executing last year’s (or last decade’s) game plan with precision may work for a while, but remember: decay, like growth, rarely moves in a straight line. Your organization’s decay may not be noticeable until it’s deeply problematic. The only way to ward off the decay of stagnation is to practice ongoing reinvention.
Change in our business is inevitable. The earlier you can drive reinvention in your organization, the better; delaying only makes your challenge more difficult