Embrace Disruption as a Viable Strategy

September 6, 2021

Every Business 101 class at an Ivy League business school has a lecturer emphasizing to their pupils that a company is “never too big to fail.”

This has been the go-to generalization attached to some of the most astonishingly disastrous business collapses of all time, including Kmart, Blockbuster, Circuit City, and others. But what were the consequences of these failures?

While some may believe it was due to a deadly mix of bad management and avarice, the majority of people are unaware that it is more often than not due to a company's failure to disrupt itself! A system that produced the bulk of the company's revenue was put in place at some time, and from that point forward, corporate executives linked their success to that system and the present, totally ignoring the future.

However, the truth is that the future is what counts most, since it is where we all reside! With an agile mentality, you spend each minute putting out more and more flames as the world advances ahead. This, along with the pressure to meet quarterly targets, diverts company executives' attention away from developing an Anticipatory mentality, which may help them become the disruptor rather than the disrupted.

What are the chances of you being suffocated?

My Anticipatory Leader System trains you to pay attention to the Hard Trends, or future certainty events, that are changing your business and to anticipate the difficulties they may bring you before they materialize.

Companies such as Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster made the typical error of focusing much more on the now than the future. With an Anticipatory mentality, you teach your team to monitor both within and outside of your sector for disruptions long before they happen.

Thinking critically about the question, "What could put us out of business?" is a smart approach to better understand how to recognize potential disruptions. There is no such thing as an absurd response; leave no stone unturned and examine all possibilities.

Consider the taxicab business and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Do you suppose they thought to themselves when the digital app boom started, “What if an app comes out that allows patrons to use their own cars as taxicabs, putting us way behind the curve?”

No way! As a result, Uber and Lyft have established themselves as market leaders.

In this case, an entrepreneur took advantage of the Hard Trend of convenience brought on by smartphone applications to address an issue, but in doing so, they disrupted others who thought they were “too big to fail.” You now have a significant option to make: become the disruptor or be disrupted by looking ahead and recognizing a disruptive Hard Trend.

Legacy Systems with a deadly legacy

Another significant reason big corporations fail is their inability to preserve and defend the status quo that has allowed them to stay well ahead of the competition in recent years. Legacy systems or legacy technologies are what I refer to as the status quo.

A legacy system is a mentality or internal procedure that has been surpassed by a newer, more efficient method. Legacy technology refers to out-of-date software that a company uses to fulfill an internal or external job and which it clings to out of habit.

Because change is the only constant in our world, both of these may be harmful to a company.

Kmart is an illustration of how a legacy system's antiquated nature may bring even the most powerful business to its knees. Kmart, once a major retailer, is down to only 34 locations.

Business experts refer to the growth of internet shopping as the main reason, but a legacy system was really one of the major problems that took Kmart down. Executives at Kmart declined to invest in computer technology to handle supply chain management, despite the fact that rivals Target and Walmart did so.

Embrace and expand, rather than guard and defend, is a preferable approach for avoiding this. While the world grew progressively more digital, Kodak, for example, spent millions of dollars fighting and preserving a film-based photographic industry.

If Kodak had embraced digital photography and expanded their company in reaction to that Hard Trend, they could still be going strong now that everyone has a digital camera in their wallets and handbags.

Disturbance isn't picky about who it affects

This is your wake-up call; don't think your company is impervious to any kind of interruption. Examine your company: do you examine your blind spots from the outside as well?

What basic assumptions do you have about how things will always be? What are you doing to become your own disruptor and avoid being left behind?

Looking to the future and figuring out precisely how someone might utilize digital disturbances to their advantage opens a method for you to do it before they do!

Similarly, clinging to legacy technology or legacy systems while desperately trying to protect and defend the status quo will only lead to a downturn or the complete demise of your business, so it's critical that you start using my Anticipatory Leader System today to shift to an Anticipatory mindset.

Thanks to Daniel Burrus at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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