CEO’s need to action disruptive innovation on a fail fast basis

Author: Mark Zawacki, James Kirk (

Categories: disruptive ecosystems

If the message is resonating and a company, starting with the chief executive, wants to figure this out, the very first thing that they do is probably recognise the challenge.  Recognise that this is happening. Look at the combination of business model innovation and software that is upending industry, disrupting industry, that is the first step.  The second is to figure out ways in your organisation to truly do what I call disruptive innovation and it is an overused word but how do you come up with businesses that are growing faster than your industry growth rate?  Everyone talks about innovation, pull a hundred annual reports of public cap companies and they are all going to say innovation or innovative in the first couple of pages, right, it is this socially desirable word that has lost all meaning in the business lexicon, but if you stand back from that – Rita McGrath at NYU by the way, data that she did said that only 8% of companies can grow at 5% per annum for 5 years in a row.  92% of large cap companies around the world aren’t growing yet they all say they are innovative in their annual reports. If a company really wants to figure out disruption what it has to get its head around is first acknowledge the problem and secondly serially launch new initiatives in new ways, not in old ways – these large companies typically do it in a pretty old fashioned way – but launch new businesses in very rapid ways and so called fail fast.  Large companies talk about pilots, and pilots are a very dated idea.  Pilots don’t accelerate learning, they actually are built to take risk out. But pilots in large companies can take a very long time and I understand some of the rationale and some of the reasoning but when I watch the disruptors they don’t ever talk about pilots, they talk about experiments and the point of experiments is to fail fast and learn from that failure to accelerate your learning, and you can make the argument that the only way of succeeding in business now is to be able to adapt and move fast.  Adaptation is the only form of sustainable competitive advantage anymore and what we see companies doing is they are very, very good at learning, they are very, very good at running experiments and extracting learning from that as fast as they can and then move forward and this is something traditional companies have to learn.

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