When did you last rip-up how you’ve always approached something and start again? And I don’t mean just a tinker or polish or rearrangement; really challenge the status quo, the safe, the secure. It is quite a hard thing to do. Successful, historical activity becomes normal because lessons have been learned, earlier failures mitigated and profit recognised. It is reasonable to suppose that previously experienced success will be repeated. But this rather assumes that nothing else has changed.
Dick Fosbury looked at the traditional methods of high jumping (and the introduction of soft foam landing mats) and saw an opportunity to try something new “the flop”, and reaped the rewards of a Gold Medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympics (and a new Olympic Record to boot). However, in Fosbury’s case this wasn’t a planned, strategic move to beat the world.
“I adapted an antiquated style and modernized it to something that was efficient. I didn’t know anyone else in the world would be able to use it and I never imagined it would revolutionize the event.”
So what if we were to take a purposeful look at something we just always do, and try and do it differently.
Countless businesses are being forced to do this largely by disruptive competitors that have recognised a shift in the environment of a previously settled marketplace. Whilst the invent of digital music and video formats undoubtedly provided the music and film industry with an opportunity to resell old music in new formats and re-envision their product offerings, it also precipitated the dissolution of a known and profitable business model, just ask HMV, Woolworths, Blockbuster. Who’s next, WHSmith?
I’m not convinced that any industry is immune. Black cabs undercut by Addison Lee or out-teched by Hailo. Restaurants rewarded or rejected by review, photographic shops used as showrooms prior to online order. Perhaps businesses should employ more people to look disruptively at their business. The need to look critically at your business, its norms, its sacred cows has never been more pressing. Some more positive disruption might turn more businesses into new businesses rather than ex-businesses.
I believe that disruption is the new innovation, and disruptors are the new influencers. Maybe your business, or team or brand might consider developing them – discover their own “Flop” before they just flop.