Disrupt how you do business

For all the talk about disruptive innovation, most companies prefer incrementalism. Innovation gets lip-service but too few take steps to prepare for – even court – disruption, especially in how they do business. “Companies routinely fail at self-reinvention because they are so busy pedalling the bicycle of their current business models they leave no time, attention, or resources to design, prototype, and test new ones,” argues Saul Kaplan, founder of the US-based Business Innovation Factory.  “Even where investments are made in innovation, those efforts are focused on new products and services delivered through today’s business models and on making the current models operate more efficiently.” New-tech players like Google encourage innovation across every aspect of the business. Born in fast-changing times, they welcome the opportunities disruption brings. For mature organisations, the cultural shift can be immense. Yet some do take the leap and reap the rewards. Under CEO Stephanie Burns, global silicon supplier Dow Corning has dramatically accelerated growth over the past decade through bold leadership, clear strategy and a combination of new-product and business-model innovation. “One advantage we have culturally is that we have employees who are extremely creative and willing to try new things, and who do not resist change the way that perhaps they do in some other companies,” Burns says. “We’ve worked hard on encouraging the dynamic that it’s healthy to embrace change. It comes down to leadership and clarity of purpose.” Kaplan couldn’t agree more. So many organisations fail at business model innovation, he says, because the CEO doesn’t want it or the focus is only on product. His other reasons: cannibalisation is off the table, the ROI models are too aggressive for fledgling models, and “rogues and renegades get no respect”. If they don’t actually shoot renegades, Kaplan adds, “they wear them down until they leave. Business model innovators go against the grain. Organisations must learn to celebrate and support people…who are willing to challenge the status quo.”

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