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Is It Time to Disrupt Yourself? 

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A version of this article first appeared in Inc.com

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CBS and HBO announce they’re offering a ‘cable-free’ streaming service to access their content.

A survey finds that 30% of adults in the US get their news via Facebook. CVS and Rite Aid announce they won’t accept Apple Pay, banking instead on an alternative solution that should arrive in 2015.

Tesco, a (mostly) UK-based supermarket chain that once had a 31% market share announces a $420m ‘accounting error’.

The French Senate passes a proposed law that requires Uber drivers (and similar) to return to their base between clients.

What do these facts have in common?

They all involve companies (sometimes entire industries) struggling to disrupt themselves:

 – The TV networks are gradually, reluctantly, responding to the disruptive effect of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon – but only after watching those companies (previously merely ‘alternative carriers’) turn into content-producing entities in their own right.

– After years of taking a head-in-the-sand approach to online content, print journalism (newspapers, magazines) have finally worked out how to have at least a minimally-effective online presence, only to discover that more and more people are reading their content not on their home pages at all, but through Facebook and other aggregators, thus depriving them of eyeballs and advertising revenue.

– Major retailers have combined to develop their own alternative to Apple’s e-wallet system, Apple Pay, having recognized late in the day that retaining their customers’ data in their own system might be more competitively advantageous than allowing it to go through Apple’s system.

– Major retailers like Tesco and Walmart are increasingly using incentives for suppliers to grab prime floor and display space to such an extent that they make more money from buying products than they do from selling them.

This massive disruption in how large retailers actually make money has been in the works for decades, but the shift to online purchasing has made its necessity even higher, leading, in Tesco’s case, to such aggressive accounting for such income that they made a $422m ‘accounting error’, suspending eight senior executives and accelerating their chairman’s retirement in the process.

– As in many countries and cities worldwide, France has a highly vocal and entrenched taxi industry – one, as in New York, with a strong aftermarket for state-issued licenses (so-called ‘medallions’).

French taxi drivers agitated so forcibly that they succeeded in having the French Senate pass a law effectively banning the use of mobile phone apps such as Uber and Lyft. All gestures in the face of industry disruption.

Some effective, some futile, most too little, too late.

Here’s the question: Do you want to be the Johnny-come-lately to disruptive changes in your industry, sticking your fingers in your ears and singing loudly until the tumult outside has become inescapable?

Or are you prepared to be the Netflix, the Apple, the Uber in your industry?

If it’s the latter, the only place to start is right at home – with the existing products and services you offer.

When are you going to make time to disrupt yourself?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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