"The key is to embrace disruption and change early. Don't react to it decades later. You can't fight innovation."
--- Ryan Kavanaugh
Disruptors or a company that causes disruption in an industry has become the buzz word and phrase of the decade. It is basically any business, idea, concept, or movement that throws things into chaos or disrupts the normal way of doing things. It can be a new or better product or service that creates a change in an industry that typically brings with it a domino effect, tapping other business concepts to create new business, and so forth. Disruptors have been typically found in the technology industry, but that is only because that is one area where time, money and energy have been dumped. But it can happen in any industry and is needed for industries to stretch and grow.
You may have heard the story of the wagon wheel and whip makers who clung to their business model because it had been so successful for so long. When the automobile industry began to flourish, these wagon industry companies stood strong-fast by their products and refused to change, thus they eventually just died. The automobile was the disruptor. Today, in the sign industry, digital, computer, LEDs, and building wraps are the disruptors.
"Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not."
--- Marc Andreessen
The first key to disruptors is to embrace them and not try to fight them. Disruptors are good for creating constructive and productive competition. They bring out the best in all of us. Some of us fight harder to branch off with something new from the disruptor while others find ways to get on board and push the disruptor along. In either case, it is always smart to accept and even cheer on the disruptor.
"Disruption is continuously afoot in every industry, but especially in autos. It is how Toyota, Nissan and Honda bloodied Detroit: They did not start their attack with Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, but with low-end subcompact models branded Corona, Datsun and CVCC."
--- Clayton Christensen
The second key is to find a way to get ahead of the disruptor. When Google Glass, the virtual reality eyewear came to market, there were already at least seven small ventures creating ways to use Google Glass with Apple products. If your finger is on the pulse of the industry, you may recognize or get wind of the next disruptor. Study the market and find a way to add benefits to the disruptor. Look for signs of products you can provide to your customers for becoming a part of the disruption.
"Instead of focusing the traditional planning cycles where companies benchmark their businesses against existing competition, teams need to be developed to foster internal change and disruption. Self-disruption is akin to undergoing major surgery, but you are the one holding the scalpel."
--- Jay Samit
Finally, instead of waiting on a disruptor, become the disruptor. Strive to find ways to do the job in a better way. Be different. Just because a particular project has always been installed a certain way doesn't mean it is the only way. Look for how to do things differently. Is there a new product you haven't tried for banners? Turn things on their heads. Think really weird thoughts. Is there a way to have those people who stand on street corners twirling signs have the signs twirl them? Now that would get attention!
If you really want to be disruptive, lead the way by giving the team member with the best idea a reward. Put your people on a disruption mission and shake up the industry.