In this recent post by Rohan Rajiv are some novel insights into what traditional companies need to do to get ahead of their rivals. While his focus is on the technology sector and how to compete against the big tech companies the lessons are valid for all. In particular the idea that the innovation curve is no longer contiguous.
The idea that innovation has jumped ahead and that there is a chasm between the market leaders and the traditionally solid performers should resonate no matter what industry you are in. It is just more evident in technology.
So, how does Rohan suggest that this chasm be bridged? By accepting that many of the tried and tested ideas that have made us reasonably sucessful will no longer to continue to bring success. Once this is understood it is easier to identify novel ways of challenging the status quo. Not all of them will work but those that do will accelerate business success. If a company takes a learn fast approach (see my earlier post for more on this idea) then the ideas that don’t work will encourage a culture of entreprenuerism within the company that will further accelerate success.
Over the years I have worked with a number of non-tech companies on transformation projects. The most successful of thes have seen the internal conversations revolove around how to manage the transition away from the traditional business model (e.g. we sell data products) to a new paradigm where the company is selling a technology based and data driven partnership with the customer.
Rohan’s over arching theme of “creative destruction” is one that the top tech firms have embraced wholeheartedly. For example Microsoft have stopped being Windows centric in the development of its productivity suite with updates oten being provided to other plattforms (iOS in particular) first. The idea is that they want a piece of every device out there. This is a variation of what Amazon has done with it’s market place. They want a piece of every online transaction and don’t care if they sell the product or someone else does.
Applying creative destruction in our professional and personal lives is not something that comes easy. However, if we are realistic, the days of a person holding a job for life are long gone and there will be times in which it is essential for us to reinvent ourselves in order to stay relevant within constantly evolving industries.
A classic example of this is traditional manufacturing in western countries. Repetitive low skill jobs are either been performed by robots or have been moved off shore to countries with cheaper labour rates. The remaining manufacturing jobs are high tech and higly skilled. The result is a significant jump in unemployment while people retrain or find alternative low paid work (if it exists).
So no matter who we are and what we do, unless we embrace change we will find it increasingly difficult to keep up. Or as Rohan sums up “what got us here won’t get us there.”