Uber or be Ubered? Disrupt or be disrupted?

Vanda Jarrett 10.11.2017

Tania Whyte is a tenured management consultant who shared her considerable tool kit with 13 years at BCG, consulting in a broad range of sectors.

Tania has since been in industry at the executive level of companies such as Linfox and Qantas and her key strength is her enviable ability to grasp an organisation’s core strategic differentiators. This has seen her sit on both sides of the disruption equation and use her leadership skills to guide many teams through the brainstorming phases in order to make an evaluation of the opportunities and threats facing their business.
We asked Tania to share some of her invaluable insight into the world of disruption, which she kindly provides below:
Disruptive innovation is the new black – everybody’s talking about it. But what can you actually do to make it real? Here’s a way to map out some specific disruptive threats and opportunities, so that you can decide whether to self-disrupt or be ready with a crackerjack defence.
Disruptive change occurs when a sector player brings some kind of radically new approach to a market. This ‘change’ has a big enough impact to change the value proposition and economics, which in turn causes rapid shifts in market leadership. Or put another way, it’s when someone manages to rapidly and comprehensively redefine the key success factors for a given industry, leaving the other players scrambling to respond.
Most disruptive change comes from outsiders who bring a fresh approach to an established market.
If an existing player can discover how to make such a redefinition, they can self-disrupt and reap the benefits, including pre-empting attack from outsiders. Although of course, self-disruption is more painful and complicated than entering as a clean sheet startup.
So far so good – but the hard bit is figuring out just what disruptive opportunities exist – given that by definition they rely on an insight or new approach that is foreign to the current market wisdom. 
Using simple competitive logic that builds on the current norms won’t work so we have developed a structured brainstorming process.
There are three phases: background research, review of the company and market through a series of lenses and synthesis.
The background research may throw up an extra exploration lens – but below are the ones we have found most useful.  For each lens, the focus is on understanding new or unmet customer needs, and the value propositions that may address them.
  1. New player trends – what new value proposition elements are emerging and in response to what unmet needs?
  2. Industry compromises – what are the accepted (but still suboptimal) compromises in the industry?  For example, not enough taxis at peak times has been addressed by Uber
  3. Potential new world assets – what market assets are currently not being monetised, or are generally under-utilised? Consider the spare bedroom, or crowd-sourced reviews, and how they can be used….see Airbnb and Tripadvisor
  4. Technology matrix – how can new technology be harnessed? Work through digital opportunity framework reviewing internet of things, digital data exchange etc and its application to business
  5. Mega and community trends – how are such trends impacting the market and its customers?  What implications are there for new value propositions/needs?
I believe all industries will face disruption.  This is one way to think it through so that your business can make considered choices about when to self-disrupt and when to defend.  
And to speak about how this disruption could impact your strategy career, or discover the exciting opportunities disruption presents, contact me on the details below for a confidential discussion.
Vanda Jarrett's picture
Executive Candidate Manager | Strategy