Disrupting on your own?...really?

by Prof. Gary McEwan - CEO of Elevator

Gary McEwan Elevator Website3Those starting out in business with big plans often use (overuse) words associated with disruption, the creation of a ‘disruptive business model’ or ‘disrupting the marketplace’.

It is spoken about like it is a new concept hatched just recently from within the digital world. In truth, it is a more contemporary term for what may have previously been called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

It is true that success generally only comes to those who those who can find a way of doing or modelling things that are better than that which currently exists or is better than the competition and when this becomes established, you are by definition disrupting that which has gone before.

Perhaps the key difference is that in the past, USP’s may have generally been at the subtler end of the scale, differentiating but not really that different.

When we talk about ‘disruptive’ models we are not talking a subtle language but rather more of a step change in the way things are done and there is little question that digital connectivity is enabling us to transform certain consumption chains. The biggest mistake amongst entrepreneurs that I see is a misunderstanding that disrupting is a solo activity, done in isolation and simply inserted into a market. It rarely works like that.

All markets act like an ecosystem, which depends on many moving parts operating efficiently from the manufacturer to the consumer. These ecosystems or consumption chains develop over time and find a groove.  

Anyone who wishes to disrupt it cannot do it in isolation, you have to involve the ecosystem and take it with you.
This is more than innovating in your own space in the way you want to. It means that to a greater extent you need to innovate on behalf of many in the chain, giving them a clear path and vision to follow towards the new disrupted ecosystem you wish to see. Taking the ecosystem with you is crucial. Without it, expect fierce resistance from those who feel the threat you pose to them, real or imagined.

Your sector will have an existing consumption chain with identifiable steps in a process that currently satisfies needs. Each stakeholder in the process will have their own needs, which they satisfy through working in a certain way using the existing methodology. If you desire to create a new or disruptive model, it’s important to understand the perspective of all stakeholders.
Your challenge is to consider whether you can find opportunities to disrupt the current model — perhaps eliminating some steps or adding others by applying a new technology.  

Such changes can often be the source of really positive disruption because they positively reconfigure relationships for EVERYONE in the ecosystem: Some stakeholders may lose importance, and new ones may emerge.

Disruption carries an air of taking the radical or maverick route regardless of what anyone else thinks, selfish almost, but the reality of disruption is that it requires finesse and a high degree of collaboration to work properly.

What sector or process are you looking to disrupt? Do you need assistance to establish your plan of action, your business model, your potential partners, and how this new ecosystem will work?
Elevator's Accelerator can help - register your interest today in the next Programme or contact our team to find out more.


Back to all blogs