Fear Not the Pace of Disruption

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Fear Not the Pace of Disruption

Cesare R. Mainardi is a smart man. Now an adjunct professor of strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, he is the former CEO of Booz & Company and Strategy&. Mainardi put pen to paper along with Paul Leinwand, Global Managing Director at Strategy&. Leinward is no slouch either and the two of them cannily strip away at a top-of-the-agenda topic these days.

Writing in strategy+business, their article is titled, The Fear of Disruption Can Be More Damaging than Actual Disruption. It carries more than one premise and all intrigue. It starts out by acknowledging that technology has been and, will continue to be, a game-changer yet, “in a recent study tracking the real-world impact of competitive upheaval, we found that the fear of disruption is exaggerated.”

This study also discovered that though speed is an issue, companies facing disruption generally have longer to respond than they expect, and an effective response is available to them.” We couldn’t agree more. There is always an effective response available if the problem and its complexity is addressed in the right way.

Still, companies facing challenges do not have years to contemplate, decide, and act. It must combat these forces with a clear process that results in high-impact, durable solutions that have the buy-in for implementation. The authors write, “Panic-driven efforts to avoid or combat disruption can easily lead to hasty, reactive, short-term-oriented decisions that move a company in many directions at once, distracting its management and squandering its resources. The fear of disruption can thus be worse for a company than the actual disruption itself.”

They also note that malaise, complacency and inaction are equally problematic. Problems require study but no business has the time to navel-gaze for months and years. To focus efforts, Mainardi and Leinward suggest, “you shouldn’t try to be faster than potential upstart competitors; you should aim to be better.”

What does aiming to be better actually mean? They believe, “We’ve long observed that great capabilities — those few things that allow you to be better than your competition at what matters to your customers — typically outlast markets.  Without them, you are at the will of others to redefine your space; with them, you have tremendous abilities to shape your own future.”

In our experience, companies need help identifying, refining and deploying their greatest capabilities. Our objectivity, proprietary process, and facilitating talent have helped clients untangle their most daunting challenges and discover solutions that counter disruption.

Whatever your situation regarding innovation, disruption, speed and agility, we can assist in moving your strategy forward by thinking ahead. That is why we subscribe to Sir Adrian Cadbury’s reasoning, “The danger is that we draw up our plans on the basis of beating what our competitors are doing now, forgetting that they too are looking ahead. We have to devise strategies which will deliver a decisive advantage over what our competitors may have in mind. Competition is dynamic, and our strategic thinking has to be dynamic as well.” We are standing by to help you find your greatest capabilities and deploy them dynamically.