Jun 21, 2015

Other side of Disruptive Innovation > 6 ways to stay adaptable and save yourself if your work / industry faces disruption

A disruptive innovation is defined in dictionaries as
'Radically re configuring a particular field of business, as by implementing new technologies or a more competitive business model'
Disruption of a technology, product, or an industry by a better/faster/cheaper/cleaner/etc. alternative sounds exciting. We almost live through it, even enjoy hearing about it.

We have even seen a few first hand
  1. CRT monitors replaced with LCDs and LEDs
  2. Cassettes replaced by CDs and now digital songs
  3. Floppy disks replaced by CDs, DVDs, and then by memory cards
Trends can't be denied and consumer preferences can't be overlooked. Take the preferences of :
  1. Calling (rather selecting on an app) a cab from Uber or Ola to going outside and taking an auto rickshaw
  2. Messaging Over-the-top with WhatsApp / Viber / etc. to sending a plain SMS 
  3. Ordering food over Zomato to calling the hotel
  4. Picking your grocery online to just going to the supermarket (which eventually disrupted the local grocery shop business)
  5. Reading news online to picking up a newspaper
This list, just like the one before it, can go on. But there's no denying disruption, it's here. It was here earlier as well, but the pace just got up a notch, and let's be true to ourselves, it will become even faster.

Well the consumer is happy at the end of the day, and so we shouldn't worry right? 

Think about the 40 something, father of three, sole bread winner for the family working in a floppy disk making company that just went bankrupt due to decreasing business. All his life, he worked on floppy disks and he was too good at his job. What happened to him? What happened to his family? Did he learn new skills and get a new job somewhere else? 

Think about, the now unemployed, factory worker, whose company just went fully automated, and he wasn't needed anymore.

Think about the effect of the decrease in daily earnings of a auto rickshaw driver due to the cab service companies. His girl wants to go to college too.

Well, of course disruption can't be stopped, and it can happen to your work, your industry, your company, and your product too, and I am not being snobbish, your does mean mine as well.

What can you do to avoid hearing about this in your 40-50s? You can:
  1. Always, and I mean always, stay abreast of the latest happenings in and around your line of work
  2. Choose a company that can adapt to disruption - that is with a broad line of work and enough funds to keep you paid without business, at least for some time
  3. Demonstrate interest and capability in multiple areas of activity of your company so you may be considered as an option, when the time comes
  4. Become adaptable to disruption by learning new skills, even outside your core line of work
  5. Think about how you can generate at least one alternative source of income, even if less. This includes investing
  6. Stay close to your family and friends. They would be with you when you go down. 
Competition is fierce. Change, as they say, is the only thing that doesn't change.

Now let's ask ourselves this. Do you still read definitions in a hard bound dictionary?