4 ways your business can be disruptive, not disrupted

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Complacency is a death sentence in business. The companies that are consistently at the top of the food chain are the companies that aren’t afraid to try something new, and are those that are willing to disrupt themselves as well as the rest of their industry.

Disruptive companies are those that take a unique approach to an age-old problem.

Think of Uber, for example, and how it transformed the ride-sharing industry. Now consider the taxi companies that Uber disrupted and left scratching their heads wondering what to do next. Would you rather you be part of a taxi company or a part of Uber?

Disruption is a key to business success, but how can it be achieved on a consistent basis? This is where things become a little easier said than done. Here are the four steps to building a disruptive business.

1. Create a workplace and culture that is about agility and quick adjustments

The ability to transition quickly is an absolute must for any disruptive company.

Organisations should institute a system where innovation and creation are encouraged, but the system should also be structured with tight feedback loops so that the creativity leads to measureable results and tangible deliverables.

There is no exact framework, but the creation cycle should follow a pattern of creating and learning new designs followed immediately by a feedback loop where edits can be made and instituted, continuing until a product is finalised.

2. Learn faster than your competition

In his book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organisation, Peter M. Senge writes, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is your organisation’s ability to learn faster.”

Learning fast is a hallmark of disruptive companies. Often, this learning can be found through the tight feedback loops as these can alert the creator to previously unseen mistakes or gaps in a design. One of the keys to learning fast is in changing the connotation of failure from a negative to a positive.

Failure should be seen as a step of growth where the company can investigate why something failed and how it can be remedied before taking action to improve on the idea and turn it into a success.

3. Embrace change

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

The needs of customers are constantly changing – so companies need to be ready to change along with them.

Agile companies are able to release product enhancements in very short periods of time. This is an important step on the path to successful disruption because it enables companies to provide more value to customers and do so quicker.

This gives a competitive advantage over rival companies and helps set a company apart from its industry foes.

4. Don’t manage… lead

Disruptive companies place special emphasis on leadership. A disruptive company should have people who lead by example, epitomising the open, agile, and competitive ideals of disruption.

One thing that often inhibits innovation is micro-management. Disruptive companies work as a team in their creation, in their feedback loops, and in their final changes. Organisations should install this team atmosphere to nurture a creative environment and team leaders.

Above all, innovation is king. Without it, businesses become stagnant and eventually are left behind the competition. Organisations that fail to innovate and that are focused on preserving the status quo will likely 1) be outsourced 2) be acquired 3) or serve as roadkill for those who innovate.

To move forward is to disrupt.

Scott Morris is vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Simplivity, a leader in hyperconverged infrastructure technology, which is dramatically simplifying business IT.

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