Brian Solis, author of the forthcoming book The End of Business as Usual and a thought leader in new media, recently published a blog post that challenges us to get off our recession-addled asses and either lead change or become a victim of it.
True, during recessions, companies batten down the hatches and reduce staff and expenses, in a desperate attempt to survive the stormy seas. But times also spawn a flurry of innovation, as a small group of dissatisfied, motivated entrepreneurs decides to develop new ideas and solutions to side-step increasingly ineffective or inefficient business-as-usual strategies. This is when disruptions happen – much to the surprise of those who get unceremoniously disrupted.
Here, Solis explains what we’re up against:
“Among the greatest difficulties associated with change is the ability to even recognize its need at a time when we can actually do something about it. Sometimes, when we finally realize that change is inevitable, the vision or energy needed to push forward in a new direction is elusive. Or worse, when competitors recognize the need for change before us, we are by default pushed into a precarious position where our next steps become impulsive rather than strategic.”
“Darwinism” has always been with us, of course. New technologies supplant and eventually replace old ones. But what makes today different is the pace of change, accelerated by digital media and social sharing. Customers can coalesce to share ideas, experiences and complaints faster than ever before. And they can do so on a global basis. Economies of scale have been overtaken by the power of speed, creativity and communication. Disruptive opportunities and threats abound. You may be the most efficient, lean buggy whip producer in the world, with numerous quality awards and a long track record of success to show for it. But what if there’s a radical new technology you’re not aware of – such as the automobile – that’s about to blow your business out of the water?
What’s in your disruption toolkit?
To survive and thrive, Solis suggests that we must hone our ability to “distinguish opportunities for transformation and innovation… by consistently seeing what others don’t, listening to the needs of customers, and delivering experiences that are worth repeating and sharing.”
What tools are you using to discern “early signals” of disruption, make connections between seemingly disparate bits of information and identify opportunities that others can’t even see yet?
My bet is on mind mapping software, which itself is a disruptive tool. Not as a panacea, to be sure. But it should definitely be in your executive planning toolkit. Why? Because no other type of software enables you to manage the incoming torrent of information, separate the digital wheat from the chaff, perform “What if?” analyses by rearranging it and ultimately help you to see new patterns and opportunities that weren’t evident at first glance.
Where do you stand?
What are you doing to prepare for a disruptive future? Are you going to be the disruptor or the disruptee? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the former, rather than just sitting there, waiting to get run over. It’s time to get off your ass.