Harvesting Resilience From the Seeds of Disruption

harvest seeds sunset
c. myers corporation

5 minutes

There’s always a next thing. How will you embrace it?

The thing about disruption is that it’s always coming toward us. No matter how well we’ve adapted to the last thing, there’s always a next thing. Because disruption is part of the fabric of business, cultivating a mindset and practices that embrace disruption can help position organizations to be more resilient and successful.

The seeds of most disruption can be seen far in advance. For example, recent advances in artificial intelligence are not a total surprise, but many are trying to quickly come up to speed to understand which of the new capabilities should be adopted. Even the Fed rate increases that started in 2022 were telegraphed months ahead of time, yet parts of the industry were slow to adapt.

It’s not so much an issue of being surprised as it is of not being fully ready. Being ready means having thought through and articulated how the coming disruption affects the business model, how any new solutions or practices will ideally be incorporated (if at all), and any mitigating actions that should be taken to prepare. Some disruptions like COVID-19 and geopolitical upheaval were surprises. In those cases, strong team leadership, resilient people and the agility to pivot quickly along with efficient operations with enough income and capital to weather a storm are key.

It’s Not About Technology

Disruption isn’t driven by technology; behaviors drive disruption. When someone somewhere comes up with a way to solve the customer’s pain point (with tech or not) and people find it useful, they’ll adopt it. If it doesn’t solve a pain point or provide a great new capability, they won’t. 

Case in point: the Razor Phone (not Motorola’s Razr) that was both a cell phone and an electric shaver. This did not cause great disruption in the cell phone industry because the inability to talk on the phone while shaving was not a pain point that needed to be solved. Automated teller machines, however, solved a huge pain point—not being able to get cash outside of business hours without cashing a check at the grocery store or some other willing business. The reason technology is commonly linked with disruption is because advances in technology often make it possible to solve pain points that couldn’t be solved previously.

Think about the disruption to the talent arena that has been going on for the past few years. It’s not driven by technology but by the changing behaviors of newer generations that think about work and careers differently than previous generations. 

Behavior Change Never Stops

Part of the reason that disruption is always on the horizon is because behaviors will never stop changing. Younger generations are known for their willingness and desire to engage differently, which is why it’s so important to understand what these new potential customers value, along with what your existing customers value. Knowing this is what makes it possible to embrace disruption and sort out what is important to pay attention to.

Intentional Efforts to Track Potential Disruption

Conscious effort is required to ensure that potential disruption is efficiently tracked, discussed and decided upon in a timely manner. The process doesn’t require large amounts of time, but some time must be allocated, and individuals assigned to research. A team could be created to meet periodically, perhaps quarterly, to discuss what’s on the radar and report on updates to the situation. A dashboard or road map for future implementation could prove useful. 

Consider these questions to prompt productive discussions. Not all the questions will apply to every situation:

  • Tracking
    • What disruption is happening now?
    • What disruption might be coming?
    • What does the timeframe look like?
    • How big might it become? How far-reaching are the consequences?
    • Should we do a deep dive on it, a high-level investigation or just keep it on the radar?
    • Are there others who should be made aware or brought into the conversation?
  • How important is it to us?
    • How could it help us fulfill our mission?
    • How could it damage our business model?
    • What is the benefit? Does it improve our target market’s experience or provide new value that they find meaningful?
    • What pain points could it solve for our target markets? 
  • Positioning
    • How far out on the adoption curve do we want to be? Fast follower? Leading edge?
    • How far out on the adoption curve do we need to be?
  • Solutions
    • Are there steps we should take to mitigate negative effects? When?
    • Are there decisions we should make about adopting new solutions? When?
    • What vendors are offering solutions? Should we look for a partner that can help?
    • Should we experiment with our own ways to alleviate the pain point? 
    • How are other organizations handling it and how is it working out? 

Embracing Continuous Disruption

It’s easier to embrace disruption when it’s been recognized and planned for in advance. Implementing practices for disruption tracking and analysis will not always result in seeing every disruption clearly ahead of time, but doing so certainly results in fewer surprises. Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting, especially when you’re ready for it. Having a forward-looking process can help shift mindsets from avoiding change to welcoming it and using it to the organization’s advantage.

c. myers helps financial institution decision-makers uncover opportunities and continuously optimize their business models. Their depth and range of experience in linking strategy, talent, desired financial performance and successful execution enables them to work with their clients as strategic collaborators. They have the experience of working with over 600 financial institutions, including 200+ of those over $1 billion in assets. C. myers helps financial institutions think to differentiate and drive better decisions through strategic planning & business model optimizationstrategic solutions and implementationstrategic leadership developmentreal-time ALM and financial forecastingeducation, and thought leadership.

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