Building Castles On Sand: Is Your Business At Risk Of Disruption?

In today’s fast-changing world, what was once your edge could now be your downfall, with even big brands at risk from scrappy newcomers – think Uber’s shake-up of the taxi world or AI startups catching out tech giants. Are YOU at risk of disruption?

Last Saturday, I joined 60,000 other people to see Coldplay live in concert here in Perth. It was a great concert, a great experience, and the live in-person experience was awesome.

I’ve been quoting one their most popular songs, “Viva La Vida”, for many years – in presentations and even in my writing. I quoted it in my most recent book, “Disrupted”, because I was talking about disruption, and “Viva La Vida” is about disruption.

Read these lyrics from the song:

I used to rule the world,
Seas would rise when I gave the word.
Now in the morning I sleep alone,
Sweep the streets I used to own.

One minute I held the key,
Next the walls were closed on me,
And I discovered that my castle stands
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.

This is exactly what’s happened to many large organisations. In the past, if you were large and powerful, held the majority of the market share, dominated your industry, had a loyal customer base, or had created a well-established brand, these things were your assets. But now, that’s no longer the case.

Our world has changed now, and sometimes those “assets” make you vulnerable to more nimble, more flexible, and more agile competitors.

Ask the taxi industry! Highly regulated and tightly controlled, and then a little upstart called Uber came along. It was even illegal at first, but delivered such compelling value to customers it forced governments to change laws.

More recently, look at a company like OpenAI – who created ChatGPT. Twelve months ago, hardly anybody had heard about it, and it’s now taken the world by storm. Tech giants like Google and Apple were taken by surprise and admitted it caught them off guard.

So, what about you? With your team, your organisation, and maybe even your whole industry, are you ripe for disruption?

I’ve created a worksheet for you to assess yourself and your organisation. It lists things that in the past would have been considered strengths and assets, but now might be weaknesses and liabilities.

When you complete this worksheet, remember a high score would have been a strength for you in the past, but now it might be a danger sign or a warning sign. It could indicate cracks that smart, nimble, agile competitors could break into and completely disrupt your business.

Use this worksheet to identify these pressure points and consider ways to address them.

If you’d like me to help you in that process, let’s talk! I love working with future-ready leaders who aren’t fixated on doing more of what’s worked for them in the past. They don’t throw it all away, but they don’t assume it’s all equally useful and relevant for the future.



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