Disrupt your cash cow, before your competitor does

The status quo. Soft killer of ideas, people, businesses and countries since the beginning of dawn. The dangerous feeling that “it’s all right”. We’re there. We made it. All is good. We’re dating perfection.

That –legend has it- is exactly why dinosaurs are today extinct. They achieved status quo, and decided not to bother in investing in a space program. The rest of the story is known: No planet B, and no space bridge to get there before that space rock hit home. End of story, the only thing reminding us of dinosaurs today, are some fossilized dusty bones, and the general framework of a chicken.

Not moving forward, not innovating, taking everything for granted, and pathetically holding on to what is, kills. Without remorse, time and again.

Progress start with challenge

If you have to invest in a Chief Innovation Officer, you at least admit partial failure, says analyst Jeremiah Owyang: “The very need of such a position proves that you were nearing status quo. No innovation, no transition-in-to. But the very process of innovation starts with admitting that the ship is dead in the water. The appointment of a Chief Innovation officer might be a wise first step. The default setting of the CIO though, should be ‘disrupt’. There is no room for making the old better. There is urgent need to invent the new.”

Macintosh killed the Apple 2

You had to prove Steve Jobs –over and over again- that your product line was viable,” quoted Guy Kawasaki, random Wise Guy, ex Apple CMO, investor and author: “For Jobs, your product was doomed, until proven otherwise. A tough ship to sail, especially because everyone new that Jobs probably also had a team in the field that was designing a product that would kill yours. And, he did. The Macintosh killed the Apple 2, the iPhone killed the iPod, the list goes on…”

pic: Nashoom march

For Kawasaki, part of the genius of Jobs was this relentless drive to disrupt his own work. The crystal-clear realization that he had to come up with something better, something more edgy. That made Apple to the success it is.

It is also one of the reasons why it is struggling today. It’s having difficulties in killing its latest cash cow, the iPhone. Apple seems to be waiting until the rest of the industry disrupts their hegemony, with analysts clearly asking themselves if Apple lost its edge.

Disruption is a cultural feature

While CEO and CFO are bonus-(s)ing themselves rich in making the numbers, while Chief Technology Officers and Chief Digital Officers are trying to have all systems in the green, while HRO’s are trying to accommodate staff to stay… and senior commercial and client facing staff is trying to sell what is making most money –usually the old stuff–, who is at the helm of the innovation that is for certain the future of the company?

For Owyang, there is little doubt: disruption must become an integral part of the company culture, at all levels. He calls for a healthy spirit of disruption, at all levels, fueled by short sprint programs lead by small, sharp and very ad-rem disruption teams.

And now?

We need that big rocket, fast…

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