The current buzz word in business, and even other spaces like self-help, is to find ways to be disruptive to existing organizations, industries, and ways of doing things. I have read more articles and posts than I care to count that say, “Disrupt or be disrupted!” Something about this latest way of looking at things has bothered me and here is why.
Successful companies in the near future will not focus on competition; they will focus on collaboration and creation!
Disrupting things assumes going in and making another way of doing it obsolete, wrong, insufficient, outdated. These are all excellent ways of taking market share from an existing company or companies; however, it is focusing on the wrong thing and will sooner, or later, lead to your own demise. Hence the admonition is never “Disrupt;” but always ends with, “or be disrupted!”
Why is this the wrong way to look at things?
Because it fails to look at what good you can bring, and rather focuses on what is currently wrong in what others are doing. It also leaves you worrying about who might disrupt you, rather than focusing on what incredible new value you can bring to your customers and the world. It is basically looking in the wrong direction.
Many companies today are sited as disrupters and touted as being successful because of it. But the real successes actually are either bringing in collaboration where there was none, or they are bringing new value to the market. Here are some examples:
- AirBnB is touted at disrupting the hotel space. However, I contend they are bringing collaboration to an industry by allowing people to share assets that were under-utilized (vacation homes or even first homes) with people they otherwise could not reach.
- Uber is cited as a key disrupter; changing the taxi industry overnight. In fact, Yellow Cab recently filed for bankruptcy. But, Uber and Lyft and other similar companies are actually expanding the ride share concept to people you do not know who are already driving nearby.
If these companies hold to their view as being disrupters they will loose their ability to continue to innovate and add value. The real gain is not in looking at what others are doing and trying to make a better widget, or beat someone in the crowded city for the few parking spaces.
The real value is in seeing the world like you are standing on the seaside about to take sail and it is a wide blue ocean. What adventures might you encounter? What new will you find?
One of my favorite business books is Blue Ocean Strategy and if you haven’t read it, I suggest you make it one of your early 2016 objectives. You will find great inspiration and strength in your future by fostering an attitude of creating new value rather than worrying about what is wrong with the old guard.