The demise of once great brands always grabs headlines. But from our perspective the real excitement is at those organizations that have survived multiple waves of disruption, demonstrated their resilience and held on, or even reclaimed leadership positions (think Microsoft, Samsung, DeBeers and US automakers).

We have helped a number of companies improve their resiliency in the face of disruption and found they have several important characteristics in common:

  • Focus on disruptive innovation vs. sustainable innovations  — Cloud computing has been hugely disruptive.  Microsoft, AWS, Google, and Oracle get it. Some traditional hardware manufacturers are back on their heels.. Alternative power sources and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling new competitors to the traditional fossil fuel-based automotive supply chain. Traditional financial services organizations are scrambling for way to compete with Fintech-powered organizations
  • Sacrifice cash cows or cannibalize existing businesses to build long-term sustainable business models — Many retailers failed to transition to an online business model and continued to focus on their existing cash cow brick-and-mortar business model despite the evidence of declining market share and growth. On the other hand, Microsoft took a huge risk in challenging the status quo, pivoted to cloud computing and thereby is reaping huge dividends and retaining its leadership position
  • 3 Cs Strategy (Collaboration, Co-opetition or Competition) —Retailers face the choice of collaborating with Amazon or going solo. At least one former category leaders took the latter strategy and now faces bankruptcy. On the other hand, Microsoft has been competing and collaborating with companies in different market segments selectively. It is competing with Apple in the mobile market but providing O365 products for iOS. Microsoft is competing with AWS in public cloud services but collaborating on bringing voice assistant/AI technologies with the recent announcement of Cortana & Alexa integration.

The same organizational resilience principles can be extended to individuals:

  • Challenge the status quo and change with the times;
  • Embrace a commitment to unlearn, learn and relearn;
  • Be flexible and believe in teamwork.

Are you ready to defy disruption?