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September 13, 2007

Disruption is opportunity

by Josh Bernoff

Lynda_applegate Prof. Lynda M. Applegate at the Harvard Business School writes:

[D]isruptive changes . . . can be viewed from 2 very different perspectives—as an opportunity or as a threat. In fact, entrepreneurs often view disruptive change as a source of opportunity. When they see a disrupted business environment—whether that disruption is from new technologies, new business models, or new regulations—they ask, "How can I leverage these changes to create value?"

But established companies often approach innovation and disruption much differently. Having worked hard to align strategy and organization to support the current business, they develop tunnel vision, encouraging employees, customers, suppliers, and partners to work together to deliver today's business results. Even when disruptive opportunities are identified, tightly aligned organizations, business models, and industry relationships make it tough to respond quickly and effectively. As a result, executives in established firms often frame disruption as a threat. When they see changes happening, they work to defend their existing business model and ask, "How can I insulate against these disruptive threats and preserve my current business model?"

Prof. Applegate's point is interesting in the context of the groundswell. The groundswell is full of threats since you are no longer in control of your brand -- your customers are. Seeing this as an opportunity takes guts.

I have just decided this is what the next 12 months of my life is about -- helping you to find opportunity, not just threat, in social technologies. It's harder than it looks.

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Hi Josh, how is the book going? Hope I had been some help :) Can't wait to get my hands on the book when it comes out.

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