Friday, April 19, 2013

“Big Bang” vs. Evolutionary – Same Disruptions, Different Viewpoint.

Check out the May 2013 print edition of the Harvard Business Review. Some of my thoughts are carried in the "Interaction" section on Pg 21.

A more detailed version of what my thoughts on the issue are:

“Big Bang” vs. Evolutionary – Same Disruptions, Different Viewpoint.

Apropos of Big-Bang Disruption (March 2013) by Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), while I agree with the general premise of the potential cataclysmic effects of Disruptions, I disagree with the authors’ premise that “You can't see big-bang disruption coming (until it's too late).You can't stop it. You can't overcome it."

The authors have highlighted several Big Bang Disruptions in the article, however almost all leverage a single platform : the Smartphone. The disruptors in my opinion are not the parking app or GPS app or payment app but the open, adaptive, secure platform called Smartphone (what I will call a “Platform Disruptor”) which has made all the other disruptors possible.

This may have a bearing on how established players react to and prepare for disruptions. They need to be on the lookout for such "Platform Disruptors" and run some What-if scenarios even if their own product/service does not appear to be directly impacted by the disruptor. e.g. say medical device manufacturers with such an analysis can figure out potential disruptions that may arise in their area due to potential remote medicine, monitoring body functions, medical database storage etc. capabilities of smartphones.

Will they be figure out all the possible disruptions, perhaps not but they would definitely be in a better shape than if they do not do the exercise at all.

Also, the Platform Disruptions are generally evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Smartphones, Big Data, Automobiles etc. none appeared in a Big Bang. Some of the downstream disruptors which these “Platform Disruptors” spawned may appear to emerge in a Big Bang. The pace of these Platform Disruption evolution is slow enough to be monitored by and reacted to by established players. But unfortunately by focusing on the downstream disruptors and failing to recognize these Platform Disruptors, companies are missing the woods for the trees.

And organizations do react knowingly or unknowingly to these Evolutionary Platform Disruptions. Case in point is how, many universities have reacted to the evolution of online distance education by making more of their own content available on the same platform. This way they have got co-opted into the evolution process and would not have to react to it ala Big Bang disruptors the articles' authors indicated.

So this one will be one disruption which will not be a Big Bang Disruption for them.

I would hypothesize that most Disruptions can be prevented from having a Big Bang effect by smart companies by:

- early identification of emerging trends

- what-if /SWOT analysis to identify impact on existing business

- identify opportunities to leverage the emerging trend

- get "co-opted" into the evolution process

- ride the evolutionary wave and reap the benefits.

Companies which do not do so will feel the impact of what was actually an evolutionary process as if it was a "Big Bang". Guys who see an oncoming bus and prepare for it can run alongside it a bit and then board it ; guys who are oblivious will be "hit by a bus".

So that’s why I view most disruptions as evolutionary rather than Big Bang and recommend that organizations prepare for them that way. For each of the companies that have been highlighted as being affected by the Big Bang disruption there will be countless others who would have thrived from the same disruption.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Power of the Magic Words: Please, Sorry and Thank the Corporate World!

As I read "The Two Most Important Words" by Robert A. Eckert, ex-Chairman &CEO of Mattel Inc in the April 2013 issue of The Harvard Business Review, I could not but help break out in verse (well if you can call limericks as verse) adding a couple of my own words to the mix of wonder words that are essential for success:

Thank You!......Please and Sorry!

Thank you to the employees and all other stakeholders
should be an easy trait everyone engenders
but surprisingly its often forgotten
in the mad rush for getting things "done" 
when in fact it can work wonders.

How about adding "please" and "sorry" to the mix
gifts from grandma's bag of tricks
modern day management can sound complicated
when in fact the reality has been distorted
After all the foundation is in basic human values and ethics.

Monday, April 8, 2013

No shortcuts to getting to the College of your dreams!

Suzy Lee Weiss very rightly mentioned "sour grapes" in the beginning line of her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece "To (All) the colleges that rejected me". (WSJ, March 29, 2013)

Other than that I was able to make no sense of the article albeit getting a whiff of the smug sense of entitlement which seems to pervade many of our youth - I am lazy, I am not smart, I do not have any goals for my life, I do not care for what rest of the world is doing; yet I deserve a place in the college of "my dreams". Just because "I am being me"

My advice to Suzy- either set her dreams appropriately or else do what rest of the world does, dream big but work hard to achieve those dreams.

Or perhaps, Suzy will have the last laugh as this piece as a college essay might yet open the doors of the college she is interested in, for her. And the irony that many who consider her rant justified will totally balk if the same logic were to be applied for sports related admissions at colleges - I like the game, don't play it well, so what, get me on the team!

Monday, April 1, 2013

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