Disruption starts with unhappy customers, not technology

by MR Magazine Staff

For eight years I’ve visited leading companies in more than 20 industries around the world that claimed to be in the process of being disrupted. Each time, I’d ask the executives of these incumbent companies the same question: “What is disrupting your business?” No matter who I talked to, I would always get one of two answers: “Technology X is disrupting our business” or “Startup Y is disrupting our business.” But my latest research and analysis reveals flaws in that thinking. It is customers who are driving the disruption. In the common scenario that executives think technology is trying to disrupt their business, they try to find a way to develop that technology internally or buy it from others. Major auto companies like GM and Ford are a good example: they have spent billions to buy and then build electric and autonomous driving technologies. If the disruption threat is coming from a startup, then the incumbent often tries to acquire it — if the valuation is low enough. They can also try to compete with the startup on price, as a means to block their advance. In most cases I have seen, neither of these responses worked as intended. Read more at Harvard Business Review.