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“Disruptive thinking” and business survival, part I

Technology + Innovation Equals Success

You may have heard the term ‘disruptive thinking.’ It describes a process whereby revolutionary ways of doing business are incubated and implemented. In other words, it refers to a ‘paradigm shift’ that can transform an industry, even an entire economy.

I prefer the word, ‘reinvention,’ to ‘disruptive thinking’ because this process is mainly disruptive for one’s competitors, less so for the company introducing the change. In fact, disruptive innovation is generally smoothly accommodated within well-led, talent-rich organizations. Success also requires realistic business priorities and an internal organization that nurtures innovation.

Because the word ‘disruptive’ is negative, this concept can inhibit business leaders from supporting timely change. Businesses that can’t envision moving beyond the status quo are setting themselves up for failure.  This mindset is euphemistically called ‘legacy thinking,’ which sounds harmless enough, but is, in fact, a strong predictor of decline. Companies that complacently accept slow innovation may find it impossible to catch up with smaller, more agile competitors. ‘Legacy organizations,’ then have to reinvent/’disrupt’ themselves overnight to keep afloat, often losing market share and personnel in the process.

Fortunately, an increasing number of businesses are harnessing digital technology in environments that encourage innovation.

uber for disruptive thinking

Examples of disruptive thinking breakthroughs

If you Google information about Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba, you’ll find fascinating accounts describing how this revolutionary process unfolds. These companies utilized digital technology in previously overlooked ways to upend the hotel, taxi and retail industries.

A key commonality among such success stories is much-improved, better-designed customer service. When similar initially promising initiatives fail, it’s often because customer service isn’t upgraded to track ever-changing consumer demand. As change accelerates, business growth requires big data analytics to gain granular insight into both customers and employees.

In my next installment, I’ll outline the characteristics of businesses that encourage innovation and adapt most quickly to change. While older, established organizations may require a more structured, less agile organizational model, they have other strategies to improve their odds of survival.

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