CEO Coaching: Play It Again!


Disrupted or Disruptor? Your Choice!

Conversations around business life cycles have been around for decades. If you majored in business or have an MBA, you talked about the startup, growth, maturity and decline stages, and you can visualize the curve that represents this cycle.

In the past decade, there has been much more discussion of disruption, which can impact business at any life-cycle stage. You don’t have to be in maturity or decline before someone develops a new business model or way to more efficiently or cheaply satisfy the need you’re fulfilling. 

I’ve written before about lessons we might draw from the likes of Schwinn, Kodak, Blockbuster and the music industry. We used to talk a lot about building a sustainable competitive advantage — still great if you can manage it — but now focus more on innovation. Clayton Christensen, who recently passed away, wrote brilliantly about this in “The Innovator’s Dilemma” many years ago.

A fascinating thing about disruption and innovation is that the underlying need is often unchanged. People still ride bikes, take pictures, watch movies and listen to music, but how they do it has morphed to more convenient (not always cheaper!) solutions.

A recent column in The Economist highlighted how the recording music industry has grown significantly in the past few years, but in a different channel — streaming. The industry as we knew it is almost dead, but the underlying market never went away, and there are great ways (now legal!) to satisfy that need to benefit the consumer. 

I frequently run into CEOs who are being, or are about to be, disrupted; I appreciate how difficult that can be. Digging in never works. Ignoring it means you’ll end up with draconian measures as your only option.

Understanding the underlying need and asking how you might satisfy it more efficiently and perhaps less expensively is the only long-term option. In this situation, “stay the course” means “go down with the ship.”

How can you most easily be disrupted? How can you provide a more delightful product or service to your core customers — maybe at a lower price with a higher margin?

If you are a CEO or senior leader in mid-market company and would like to have a free 20-minute consultation (e.g. to discuss a current challenge), click here to set up a time.

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