11 September 2019

Digitalization is changing markets and businesses to an unprecedented extent. By 2030, the pace of change will increase dramatically. But how can one profit from this and become a winner of this digital change? In his guest article, Jens-Uwe Meyer (expert on Innovation and Digitalization) shows how disruptive thinking succeeds and how it helps you, the team and the whole company.

In recent years, numerous teams, departments, and companies that are at the forefront of digital change have been analyzed. Digital winners. They all had one thing in common: They thought the future disruptively. They thought about how they could attack themselves and their existing business. Disruptive thinking means in the first step to question the existing completely.

#1 Slaughtering cash cows

Compared to traditional companies, start-ups have it relatively simple. They attack existing markets. Uncompromising. They got nothing to lose, either. In contrast to traditional companies, start-ups often do not earn money for years - sometimes never. In traditional companies, it's harder. On the one hand, they must serve the existing customer base and optimize the existing business as far as possible. On the other hand, they have to push innovations uncompromisingly.

A task that often fails because certain "cash cows" are not questioned: The existing sales structure, a software tool established years ago or corporate structures that have emerged in the analog age. The first stage of disruptive thinking consists in questioning these "cash cows" again and again. Would you start again today, would you set up your sales structures in the same way? Would you introduce the software like that today? And would you still structure the company in this way today? Whenever the answer is "No", the existing state should be changed.

#2 Search for transferable applications of digital technologies

Most people and companies are industry-oriented in their thinking. They compare themselves with other companies in their industry as well as with companies from related sectors. Disruptive thinking follows other principles: Comparison with companies from other industries. What applications does Amazon have that can be transferred to a machine manufacturer? Where does a highly innovative start-up with artificial intelligence solve problems better than others?

#3 Start an attack on yourself

Put yourself in the position of an aggressive attacker. What would you do to uncompromisingly attack your existing business model? What innovative services and digital business models would you develop if you didn't have to look at your existing business? This kind of disruptive thinking deliberately disregards the existing. Put yourself in the shoes of the Amazon boss, the Zalando founder or an AI startup. What would you do differently if you were suddenly no longer in the situation of defense, but playing attack?

#4 Transfer your new ideas into the existing business

The "normal" approaches are coming through again in many companies.

  • "I can't do that right now."
  • "This is not compatible with our day-to-day business."
  • "This won't be profitable in the short term."

Think about how the results of disruptive thinking can be transferred to your company. And decide whether the implementation of innovation projects within the existing structures or creation of new structures could be done. For example, an Innovation Lab or even a spin-off.

Disruptive thinking helps the company to get rid of the blinkered view that is normal in everyday life. Disruptive thinking is what makes digital winners successful.



This article was published on netzwoche


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