Don’t Panic Still Needs to Be Said about Disruption

In today’s era of rapid change, we often hear that companies should disrupt before they are disrupted. This can leave companies excessively oriented toward innovation, when instead they should be putting emphasis upon on their strengths. Throwing away your strengths and excessively innovating for the future is a mistake. You need to harness your strengths and be careful not to panic about disruption. Yes, making appropriate changes for the future is important. But, as I’ve written before, back in early 2013, panic is not the answer to threats of potential disruption.

So, it’s interesting to see the September 27, 2017 article in Strategy and Business titled “The Fear of Disruption Can Be More Damaging than Actual Disruption” by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi. The article’s subhead advises to resist the urge to hastily make major change and instead make the necessary strategic choices. That’s what I’ve been advocating since my Winning Moves website went live in 2007 with the tagline Strategic Choices for Successful Business Growth, and with various examples about resisting the urge to make radical changes.

Nonetheless, the Strategy and Business article is still valuable today because many companies have been lured by the fear that they must disrupt before they are disrupted. Some have been making major changes that are not wise strategic choices. Others are still unsure what to do in today’s era of uncertainty and rapid change. Many still need to be reminded or even convinced that hasty major change is not the answer. Often, companies are used to a bias for action, a decision making tendency that can interfere with their ability to resist the urge to make inappropriate radical change.

So, the kinds of things I’ve been advocating for quite some time still need saying, and Leinwand’s and Mainardi’s Strategy and Business article does a good job saying what needs to be said. For example, their article states, “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 article’s advice not to panic is very appropriate from what I’ve seen based on my 25+ years researching business success and failure patterns. That’s why back in February 2013, I blogged saying “Don’t panic! It won’t save you from market disrupters.” And, that’s why the examples and advice here on this website encourage companies not be hasty in plotting their strategic moves. The wrong response to the threat of potential disruption can sometimes even be much worse than no response at all. And, panic can easily lead to the wrong response. On the other hand, the right kind of response to the threat of disruption can pave the way to a successful future.

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