• January 28, 2016

The Age of Agile Disruptors: Is Your Enterprise Prepared?

In this age of enterprise churn, agile disruptors will come out on top. Think Uber, Amazon, Netflix, or WhatsApp.

But what do you have to do to be one? Disruptors question the status quo, know their customers, and constantly check the pulse of world markets. Disruptors create whole new categories. At their core, disruptors deftly utilize technology and possess a keen understanding of how people behave. They disregard norms in their industry. How can organizations transform their cultures and business models so they can behave, compete, and thrive like agile disruptors?

Assess the Landscape

In an environment where the velocity of change is accelerating and customer expectations are soaring, doing business as usual is riskier than ever. To compete, companies need to invest in new ways to transform their businesses. That’s easy to say. But how can it be achieved?

First, you need a vision of where you want to go as an enterprise and a roadmap that will lead you there. That map should include where to invest, what to build, or how to rebuild. It should also have built-in flexibility, because as the landscape shifts or you gain new insights, your roadmap will need to change.

For example, a global elevator and escalator company transformed a traditional enterprise by integrating sensor and mobile technologies. The technology alerts them and their customers to problems and allows them to perform maintenance functions in real time before issues lead to extended downtimes. Instead of selling a people-moving product, they’re selling people-moving services.

The best companies transform into agile, modular enterprises. These organizations can quickly unplug an underperforming component and sell it before it becomes a drag on the entire enterprise. Then they can carve out an existing component and focus on transforming it, or acquire a new component and plug it into the operation.

Develop Disruptor Think

To develop a disruptor culture, you need to adopt a disruptor mind-set. Disruptors incessantly ask the question, “What if?” Disruptors exhibit endless curiosity and have a facility for asking the right questions. These questions are bold, sometimes counterintuitive—maybe even a little crazy. But such divergent thinking is an effective way to fend off stagnation.

Disruptors continuously check the pulse of markets to get a sense of the unexpected. For example, who would have thought in the massively disrupted music industry that vinyl records would experience a resurgence? Or that printed book sales would escalate in an era of ebooks?

Scan the whole business. Get close to your customers to inspire innovation. What can you do better now? Move quickly and learn by doing. By making changes in how your company acts today, you can be prepared to respond to tomorrow’s disruptions. The time to change enterprise thinking is now.

Like this story? Check out another article about digital disruption, “Is the Road Runner Rate of Change Turning the Enterprise into Wile E. Coyote?”