One could be forgiven for thinking that the contemporary use of the term ‘disruption’ was bordering on overuse and beginning to lose its impact. In recent years, not a week would go by without another emerging technology or innovative business model concept being labelled as disruptive.
Depending on your point of view, disruption was either a constant of modern life or complete hyperbole.
That is, until COVID-19.
The global pandemic that has brought entire countries and economies to a standstill has been a master class in disruption and response. Beyond management theory, we have all witnessed the real-world, real-time impact of disruption and have experienced it first hand. We have seen organisations respond to unprecedented challenges through innovation, agility and execution, by focussing on understanding the impacts on their customers and pivoting to meet rapidly changing needs.
Strategy is no longer possible without contemplating disruption, anticipating potential impacts, envisaging the critical capabilities required to survive and thrive …and then transforming the organisation to inculcate those capabilities. The foundations of leading adaptive organisations have a number of common threads: an agile, innovative culture; an adaptable, digital backbone; and a customer centric organisation with deep insight into the needs of its key stakeholders. Through the current health and economic crisis, the organisations that have been most resilient are those that exhibit these foundational characteristics that have enabled them to adapt amidst uncertainty and remain relevant.
Whilst disruption is most often seen as something that impacts upon us, something to which one responds, it can of course also be a competitive tool to be deployed, something one does, that creates new markets and forces others to respond. Rather than adapting to disruption, market leaders harness it. They leverage it as an opportunity. They cause it.
Our recent KPMG Digital Delta Innovation Trends 2020 report found an unsurprising shift by a majority of organisations towards pivoting or adapting current products and services to meet the changing needs of customers in these uncertain times. By contrast, the largest decline in organisational innovation activity was reported for the pursuit of disruptive products or services.
And thus the choice is… disrupt or be disrupted?
How are you harnessing disruption?