Seismic shifts like cutting-edge technology, changing workplace trends and consumer preferences, are giving our leaders much to worry about. With so many market leaders being dethroned, and entire industries being wiped out, what do you look out for, and proactive steps can you take?
RECOGNIZING COMPETITIVE REVOLUTIONS
Is your industry on the verge of a revolution? In all domains of competition – from business to sports to war – radical changes follow a specific pattern:
• Existing players fall into a routine, adopting the same practices and thinking within an accepted paradigm
• Outliers, a few innovators who “break the rules”, emerge
• Their new strategy is proven to be superior
• Competitors try to copy but are too late
Staying ahead of your competition involves 4 things:
• Recognizing when an industry is rigid
• Identifying a strategy others have ignored
• Validating if your strategy is indeed better
• Executing the strategy in a way that slows down competitors’ tendency or ability to copy your innovation
Take a step back to consider some of your potential organizational/ industry blind spots.
• That’s the way things are. How often do you say that and what are some of the underlying norms and assumptions that may not longer be valid?
• Our company/industry is different… or not. Pick any 3 major industry transformations in various industries (e.g. retail, travel, banking), and consider what your industry will look like, given similar trends/changes.
• Read our blog summary of The Innovator’s Dilemma, and really understand how the same “best-practices” that had earned you success, could also lead to your downfall.
CHARTING YOUR PATH: 3 POWER TOOLS
Of course, rather than wait for the revolution to hit you, a more proactive approach is to take the initiative to innovate and become a disruptive force yourself. The 2 must-read books are: Blue Ocean Strategy (which provides a systematic approach to carving out your own “blue ocean” and making your competition irrelevant, and Outthink the Competition (which explains 5 habits and processes that you can build into your organization to outwit your competition).
The books are packed with tools and frameworks… we’ll just highlight a select few that you can use immediately to get some breakthrough ideas. In particular, in Outthink the Competition, Krippendorff zooms in on 5 “stratagems” (out of 36 stratagems collected over 1000 years of history in ancient Chinese warfare). We’ll just focus on 3 of them in this article, and combine them with a few key tools from Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) – you can immediately apply them to brainstorm ideas for your own disruptive technology.
1. Where is the next battleground?
Use the “6 Paths” concept tool from BOS, look across 6 different “paths” to identify possible new battlegrounds. Start your transition even while you handle current challenges.
2. With whom can you launch a two-front battle?
One of the key BOS tools is the Strategy Canvas – use this to map out the competitive and value assumptions of your industry, so you can create identify how you concurrently reduce costs and increase differentiation. Or, map the canvases for more than 1 industry to identify areas of overlaps that you can leverage, to launch your two-front battle.
3. What piece(s) can you add to, or remove, from the game board?
Simply by adding, removing or redefining existing pieces of the game board, you can design a brand new game. If you’re unsure where to start, try using the BOS 4-Action Framework:
There are no shortage new opportunities and ideas for your business. These are just some tools to get your creative juices flowing. Read more about disruptive technology in Outthink the Competition and The Innovator’s Dilemma, or check out other great strategy books like Blue Ocean Strategy, Good to Great, Built to Last, Zero to One and The Fifth Discipline.
Use technology the right way to transform your business. Check out these useful links and resources!