Eight Don’ts – How Not To Be Disrupted
- Don’t close out your options too early: For Kodak, they decided they weren’t going to be in the digital camera business. As a result, they stopped devoting resources to digital before it was too late. Don’t eliminate new products, new markets and new opportunities from your possible pipeline.
- Don’t be tied to your history: As Ed relayed, “You have way more ahead of you than behind you… bringing the dead weight of your legacy from your past into the future can be detrimental to the business.” Just because Kodak was in the paper-and-chemicals business doesn’t mean they can’t be something else.
- Don’t be overly attached to your existing business: All existing products/services will be disrupted, and revenues will eventually go to zero. Don’t be attached to them. You have to move with technology and the market. This is hardest when you are profitable, like Kodak. You must be aware that you’re most vulnerable when you’re doing well.
- Don’t ignore the signals: Ed mentioned, “It’s easy to see that little disruptive force on the horizon and think to yourself, “Boy I hope that thing goes away,” or, “I hope if I ignore that, it’s just not going to happen.” Don’t ignore them. Your biggest threats are probably in the deceptive phrase.
- Don’t be tentative: Kodak built the first digital camera. But they were tentative. They didn’t want to put their name on it. Don’t be tentative; be bold. Don’t play defense – spend money on accelerating (we’ll get to this in a second).
- Don’t say, “We can’t do X because it is not the way we do things”: “It’s not the way we do it” is never a good enough argument NOT to try something new…
- Don’t worry about the big guys: When looking at potential disruptions, don’t worry about the big companies. They are usually (with some exceptions) slow-moving and tentative, ironically enough (see Kodak and Lotus). Instead, you should be worrying about the small guys in a garage. They have nothing to lose. Try to find them… invest in them, partner with them or hire them.
- Don’t fret! You are fighting against billions of years of human evolution. We have evolved to be linear thinkers. Just keep trying to innovate and avoid doing the things above. And keep reading.
Six Do’s of Disruption: How to Disrupt Yourself
- Disrupt your adjacencies: It’s hard to disrupt yourself; few companies have ever done this. So instead, try to disrupt your suppliers and/or your customers. You can disrupt your suppliers by vertically integrating and building business around the systems that power your existing business. You can disrupt your customers by looking at the other products and services they are already using and build better ones. Apple, Amazon and Google are all great at both of these.
- Build the best products, or get a piece of them: The best product wins. Either build the best product in your category, or if you can’t, find a way to get a piece of the best one.
- Be agile: Agility is everything. Make sure you have the right culture and people to support agility. Oftentimes organizations have an immune response to new innovations – instead, try to make innovation and change a part of your culture.
- Watch your customers, then listen to them: It sounds intuitive, but it’s not. As Ed mentioned, Lotus saw that their customers were switching to Excel. Then they heard them say they preferred it. And yet they didn’t do much about it. Your customers are your lifeblood. Listen to them and adapt to them.
- Build a Skunkworks: Ed mentioned, “I would have loved to have had a business inside Kodak whose job it was to totally destroy the core business.” I’ve talked about this idea before – you need to create a safe, secure place for innovation to happen.
- Have an abundance mindset: As Ed puts it, “There is more ahead of you than behind you.” Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.