The Disrupted Organization

Guido Stevens | Jun 19, 2012 | management · innovation
To thrive in the current turbulent business environment, organizations need to embrace disruption.

International management bestsellers like Blue Ocean Strategy, provide recipes for being bold and crafting new business models, that offer vistas of fantastic profitability.

The interest in disruptive innovation obscures an uncomfortable reality: many more businesses are being disrupted than are being disruptive.

It's a bit like the saying about old age: Everyone wants to grow old, but nobody wants to be old.

Face the future

Avoiding disruption is a futile, and loosing, strategy. Just take a look at the macro forces that are shaping today's business landscape:[*]

Globalization and interconnectedness
Pervasive interdependence leads to complex, unpredictable dynamics
Social responsibility
Sustainable development and stakeholder value-oriented perspectives challenge organizations to integrate multi-faceted value creation mechanisms
Accelerating pace of innovation
Waves of disruptive changes quickly erode the status quo
Chaotic and turbulent competitive landscape
Lower barriers to entry and technology-driven innovation generate an unpredictable dynamic
Dynamical networked value-added chains
Superior competitiveness and agility require a strong eco-system of dynamic supply network relations
Global shift to Asia
A shift of the center of gravity of the global economy creates new business opportunities and threats
Knowledge commodification
Technical knowledge codified in products, software and business processes can be acquired in the market or quickly recreated by competitors
Customer power
With the world at their fingertips, customers demand superior value experiences

The combined impact of these trends results in a fast moving, highly unpredictable, turbulent business environment, where only one thing is certain: you will be disrupted.

Prepare to be disrupted

Fortunately, to paraphrase Cruijff: every disadvantage has its advantage.

To thrive in this turbulent environment, organizations need to embrace and welcome change, reward bottom-up initiatives, reconfigure fluidly, tolerate a degree of messiness and have a significant risk appetite. While some of those values (not the messiness :) may sound great on paper, in practice each of these values involves friction and stress levels that may not be a pleasant experience. You don't move to such a position, unless compelled by external forces, like disruptive competitors that threaten your very organizational continuity.

Compelled or not: once your organization has embraced change, increased agility and responsiveness and has mobilized all resources - in short, once you've accepted being disrupted as a reality - now you're in an excellent position to start doing some disruption onto others as well.

In short: to become disruptive, prepare to be disrupted.

[*]Adapted from Schiuma and Lerro: Managing knowledge assets in a complex business landscape: the relevance of emotive knowledge
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