Digital Disruption Common Sense

Facebook took 3.5 years to acquire 50 million customers, Whatsapp took 15 months, Angry Birds took 15 days.

Since 1995 when Clay Christensen and Joe Bower published the HBR article Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave some leaders arrogantly dismissed the notion as rubbish, but have more recently been forced to sit up as disruptive innovation finally arrives, uninvited, at their doorstep and has already eaten away at their profit.

This common theme is rippling through industries: Market share plummets, numbers wake up the board of directors, a new CEO replaces a complacent predecessor, and a game of catch-up begins. While some firms get lucky, others don’t, as traditional incumbent executives have almost no experience of responding to such speed of disruption. They act quickly and as easily as they can, with copy-cat tactics, but with little in the way of innovation involved.

Chris Bradley at McKinsey described the journey that many of incumbents take in this excellent video.

When it comes to disruption, it’s often the destructive ways in which a firm might respond to a threat that hurts them most. They become their own worst enemy as they create their own internal clouds of chaos and confusion and put themselves under a transformation illusion. Loyal teams forge forward oblivious to the fact that their strategy lacks innovation and that their execution lacks fundamental elements of transformation. Their effort will create small change at best – but nothing sufficient enough to fend off the escalating cost of disruption.

Listen to Vidia Mooneegan, SVP and MD of Ceridian talk common sense on digital disruption. Because it’s common sense that’s often missing.