A global pandemic is a rare and unusual form of disruption.
Although the whole point is that we never see it coming. Disruption comes from unexpected places, and even hindsight is often short-sighted on learning its lessons.
Let’s walk through three lessons from three highly disruptive episodes of recent business generations.
Disruption story one: Uber
Remember taxis? They still exist. The taxi industry was thrown into turmoil because of Uber, and subsequent ride-sharing apps.
What lay at the foundation of Uber, however, was not a cab company. It was the development of a GPS.
The taxi industry was disrupted by GPS.
And once it happened, nobody claimed to be that surprised. After all, taxis in so many cities were slow, expensive, unreliable. With proper listening, any taxi company may have come up with a better solution.
When you work on marketing your business, don’t just plan to talk to your clients: plan to also hear from your clients.
Don’t be surprised by their complaints and future decisions.
Disruption story two: Ring
Home security systems were rarely adopted in apartment communities, or that’s how Ring tells it. They are expensive and cumbersome, requiring electrical work that most renters would not be able to accept.
What changed with Ring?
Not having to contend with wires throughout a house allowed a new generation of security panels and sensors to be set up with ease. It wasn’t a better system, it was less drilling.
If your main concern is to be better than the competition, then you end up building a better alarm system. Not an easier-to-use alarm system.
Don’t be better: just be different. And find out how to be different by listening to your clients.
Disruption story three: Kodak
Kodak invented digital photography. Kodak brought the first digital camera to market in the 1990s.
At the time, camera film was Kodak’s main moneymaker, and they realized that digital photography would eliminate the need for film. So what did they decide to do?
That’s right: they stopped marketing their digital cameras. They didn’t want to disrupt their own business.
So others came along and did it for them.
Never assume that your product is unique. Remember that you can and should change at any time. Rely on your guiding principles to stay the same and everything else to adapt to market needs.
Let your clients tell you what they want
- Listen to your clients more than you talk to them
- Develop your value, not your perfection
- Be prepared to change